UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
WARD HILL LAMON
PUBLISHED BY THE EDITOR
BY DOROTHY LAMON
By DOROTHY LAMON TEILLARD
All rights reserved
THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, 0. S. A.
THE reason for thinking that the public may
be interested in my father's recollections of
MR. LINCOLN, will be found in the following letter
from HON. J. P. USHER, Secretary of the Interior
during the war :
LAWRENCE, KANSAS, May 20, 1885.
Ward H. Lamon, Esq., Denver, Col.
DEAR SIR, There are now but few left who were
intimately acquainted with Mr. Lincoln. I do not call
to mind any one who was so much with him as yourself.
You were his partner for years in the practice of law, his
confidential friend during the time he was President. I
venture to say there is now none living other than your-
self in whom he so much confided, and to whom he gave
free expression of his feeling towards others, his trials
and troubles in conducting his great office. You were
with him, I know, more than any other one. I think, in
view of all the circumstances and of the growing interest
which the rising generation takes in all that he did and
said, you ought to take the time, if you can, to commit
to writing your recollections of him, his sayings and
doings, which were not necessarily committed to writing
I 1556 S3
and made public. Won't you do it? Can you not,
through a series of articles to be published in some of the
magazines, lay before the public a history of his inner
life, so that the multitude may read and know much
more of that wonderful man? Although I knew him
quite well for many years, yet I am deeply interested in
all that he said and did, and I am persuaded that the
multitude of the people feel a like interest.
Truly and sincerely yours,
(Signed) J. P. USHER.
In compiling this little volume, I have taken as
a foundation some anecdotal reminiscences already
published in newspapers by my father, and have
added to them from letters and manuscript left by
If the production seems fragmentary and lack-
ing in purpose, the fault is due to the variety of
sources from which I have selected the material.
Some of it has been taken from serious manuscript
which my father intended for a work of history,
some from articles written in a lighter vein ; much
has been gleaned from copies of letters which he
wrote to friends, but most has been gathered from
notes jotted down on a multitude of scraps scat-
tered through a mass of miscellaneous material.
WASHINGTON, D. C.,
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
TN deciding to bring out this book I have had
in mind the many letters to my father from men
of war times urging him to put in writing his recol-
lections of Lincoln. Among them is one from Mr.
Lincoln's friend, confidant, and adviser, A. K.
McClure, one of the most eminent of American
journalists, founder and late editor of " The Phila-
delphia Times," of whom Mr. Lincoln said in 1864
that he had more brain power than any man he
had ever known. Quoted by Leonard Swett, in the
" North American Review," the letter is as fol-
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. i, 1891.
Hon. Ward H. Lamon, Carlsbad, Bohemia:
MY DEAR OLD FRIEND, .... I think it a great
misfortune that you did not write the history of Lincoln's
administration. It is much more needed from your pen
than the volume you published some years ago, giving the
history of his life. That straw has been thrashed over
Vlii PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
and over again and you were not needed in that work
but there are so few who had any knowledge of the inner
workings of Mr. Lincoln's administration that I think you
owe it to the proof of history to finish the work you be-
gan. and never knew anything about Mr. Lin-
coln. They knew the President in his routine duties and in
his official ways, but the man Lincoln and his plans and
methods were all Greek to them. They have made a history
that is quite correct so far as data is concerned, but be-
yond that it is full of gross imperfections, especially when
they attempt to speak of Mr. Lincoln's individual qualities
and movements. Won't you consider the matter of writ-
ing another volume on Lincoln ? I sincerely hope that
you will do so. Herndon covered about everything that
is needed outside of confidential official circles in Wash-
ington. That he could not write as he knew nothing
about it, and there is no one living who can perform that
task but yourself ....
(Signed) A. K. McCuiRE.
I have been influenced also by a friend who is
a great Lincoln scholar and who, impressed with
the injustice done my father, has urged me for
several years to reissue the book of " Recollec-
tions," add a sketch of his life and publish letters
that show his standing during Lincoln's administra-
tion. I hesitated to do this, remembering the
following words of Mr. Lincoln at Lancaster, Penn-
sylvania, on his way to Washington : " It is well
known that the more a man speaks the less he is
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. IX
understood the more he says one thing, the more
his adversaries contend he meant something else."
I am now yielding to these influences with the
hope that however much the book may suggest a
" patchwork quilt " and be permeated with Lamon
as well as Lincoln, it will yet appeal to those
readers who care for documentary evidence in
DOROTHY LAMON TEILLARD.
WASHINGTON, D. C,
LETTER FROM EX-SECRETARY USHER.
LETTER FROM A. K. MCCLURE.
MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON.
Prominent Features of Mr. Lincoln's Life written by himself 9
Purpose of Present Volume 13
Riding the Circuit 14
Introduction to Mr. Lincoln 14
Difference in Work in Illinois and in Virginia 15
Mr. Lincoln's Victory over Rev. Peter Cartwright ....15
Lincoln Subject Enough for the People 16
Mr. Lincoln's Love of a Joke Could " Contribute Nothing
to the End in View " 16
A Branch of Law Practice which Mr. Lincoln could not learn 17
Refusal to take Amount of Fee given in Scott Case . . . 18
Mr. Lincoln tried before a Mock Tribunal 19
Low Charges for Professional Service 20
Amount of Property owned by Mr. Lincoln when he took the
Oath as President of the United States 20
Introduction to Mrs. Lincoln 21
Mrs. Lincoln's Prediction in 1847 that her Husband would be
The Lincoln and Douglas Senatorial Campaign in 1858 . . 22
" Smelt no Royalty in our Carriage " 22
Mr. Lincoln denies that he voted against the Appropriation
for Supplies to Soldiers during Mexican War .... 23
Jostles the Muscular Democracy of a Friend 24
Political Letter of 1858 26
Prediction of Hon. J. G. Elaine regarding Lincoln and
JOURNEY FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON.
Time between Election and Departure for Washington . . 28
Mr. Lincoln's Farewell to his Friends in Springfield . .""*. 30
At Indianapolis 32
Speeches made with the Object of saying Nothing . . . . 33
At Albany Letter of Mr. Thurlow Weed 34
Loss of Inaugural Address 35
At Philadelphia Detective and alleged Conspiracy to mur-
der Mr. Lincoln 38
Plans for Safety 40
At Harrisburg 40
Col. Sumner's Opinion of the Plan to thwart Conspiracy . . 41
Selection of One Person to accompany Mr. Lincoln ... 42
At West Philadelphia Careful Arrangements to avoid Dis-
At Baltimore " It 's Four O'clock " 45
At Washington 45
Arrival at Hotel 46
Formation of Cabinet and Administration Policy 48
Opposition to Mr. Chase 49
Alternative List of Cabinet Members 50
Politicians realize for the First Time the Indomitable Will of
Mr. Lincoln 51
Mr. Seward and Mr. Chase, Men of Opposite Principles . . 51
Mr. Seward not to be the real Head of the Administration . 52
Preparations for Inauguration 53
Introduction by Senator Baker 53
Impression made by Inaugural Address 54
Oath of Office Administered 54
The Call of the New York Delegation on the President . . 55
GLOOMY FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT.
Geographical Lines distinctly drawn 56
Behavior of the 36th Congress 57
Letter of Hon. Joseph Holt on the " Impending Tragedy " . 58
South Carolina formally adopts the Ordinance of Secession 62
Southern Men's Opinion of Slavery 62
Mr. Lincoln imagines Himself in the Place of the Slave-
Judge J. S. Black on Slavery as regarded by the Southern
Emancipation a Question of Figures as well as Feeling . . 66
Mission to Charleston 68
" Bring back a Palmetto, if you can't bring Good News " . . 70
Why General Stephen A. Hurlbut went to Charleston ... 70
Visit to Mr. James L. Pettigrew Peaceable Secession or
War Inevitable 71
"A great Goliath from the North" "A Yankee Lincoln-
Hireling " 72
Initiated into the great " Unpleasantness " 73
Interview with Governor Pickens No Way out of Existing
Difficulties but to fight out 74
Passes written by Governor Pickens 75, 78
Interview with Major Anderson 75
Rope strong enough to hang a Lincoln- Hireling 76
Timely Presence of Hon. Lawrence Keith 77
Extremes of Southern Character exemplified 77
Interview with the Postmaster of Charleston 78
Experience of General Hurlbut in Charleston 79
The Ease with which Mr. Lincoln could be reached . . . . 80
Visit of a Committee from Missouri 81
A Missouri " Orphan " in Trouble 82
Protection Paper for Betsy Ann Dougherty 83
Case of Young Man convicted of Sleeping at his Post ... 86
Reprieve given to a Man whom a "little Hanging would not
An Appeal for Mercy that failed 88
An Appeal for the Release of a Church in Alexandria ... 89
" Reason " why Sentence of Death should not be passed upon
a Parricide 90
The Tennessee Rebel Prisoner who was Religious .... 90
The Lord on our Side or We on the Side of the Lord ... 91
Clergymen at the White House 91
Number of Rebels in the Field 92
Mr. Lincoln dismisses Committee of Fault-Finding Clergy-
Mistaken Identity and the Sequel 94
Desire to be like as well as of and for the People .... 96
Hat Reform 97
Mr. Lincoln and his Gloves . 97
Bearing a Title should not injure the Austrian Count ... 99
Mr. Lincoln's Tenderness toward Animals 101
Mr. Lincoln refuses to sign Death Warrants for Deserters
Kind Words better than Cold Lead 102
How Mr. Lincoln shared the Sufferings of the Wounded
Letters of Condolence . . 106-108
DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS.
Superstition A Rent in the Veil which hides from Mortal
View what the Future holds m
The Day of Mr. Lincoln's Renomination at Baltimore . . 112
Double Image in Looking-Glass Premonition of Impend-
ing Doom 112
Mr. Lincoln relates a Dream which he had a Few Days be-
fore his Assassination 114
A Dream that always portended an Event of National Im-
Mr. Lincoln's Last Drive no,
Mr. Lincoln's Philosophy concerning Presentiments and
THE HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER.
Mr. Lincoln calls himself " Only a Retail Story-Dealer" . . 123
The Purpose of Mr. Lincoln's Stories 124
Mr. Lincoln shocks the Public Printer 124
A General who had formed an Intimate Acquaintance with
Charles I. held up as a Model for Mr. Lincoln's Guidance in
Dealing with Insurgents Had no Head to Spare . . 127
Question of whether Slaves would starve if Emancipated . 127
Mr. Lincoln expresses his Opinion of Rebel Leaders to Con-
federate Commissioners at the Peace Conference . . . 128
Impression made upon Mr. Lincoln by Alex. H. Stephens . 129
Heading a Barrel 129
A Fight, its Serious Outcome, and Mr. Lincoln's Kindly
View of the Affair 130
Not always easy for Presidents to have Special Trains fur-
nished them 132
Mr. Lincoln's .Reason for not being in a Hurry to Catch the
" Something must be done in the Interest of the Dutch " . 134
San Domingo Affair 134
Cabinet had shrunk up North 135
111 Health of Candidates for the Position of Commissioner
of the Sandwich Islands 135
Encouragement to Young Lawyer who lost his Case . . . 136
Settle the Difficulty without Reference to Who commenced
the Fuss 137
" Doubts about the Abutment on the Other Side " . . . . 138
Mr. Anthony J. Bleeker tells his Experience in Applying for
a Position Believed in Punishment after Death . . 138
Mr. Lincoln points out a Marked Trait in one of the North-
ern Governors 140
" Ploughed around him " 142
Revenge on Enemy 143
THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. LINCOLN'S LOVE OF SONG.
If a Cause of Action is Good it needs no Vindication . . . 144
Letter from A. J. Perkins 145
Mr. Lincoln's Own Statement of the Antietam Affair . . . 147
One " Little Sad Song" 150
Well Timed Rudeness of Kind Intent 151
Favorite Songs 152
Adam and Eve's Wedding Day 152
Favorite Poem: "O Why Should the Spirit of Mortal be
HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN.
The Incident which led Mr. Lincoln to wear a Beard ... 158
The Knife that fairly belonged to Mr. Lincoln 159
Mr. Lincoln is introduced to the Painter of his " Beautiful
Death of Mr. Lincoln's Favorite Child 161
Measures taken to break the Force of Mr. Lincoln's Grief . 162
The Invasion of Tad's Theatre 164
Tad introduces some Kentucky Gentlemen ...... 166
THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH.
The Gettysburg Speech 169
A Modesty which scorned Eulogy for Achievements not
his Own 170
Mr. Lincoln's Regret that he had not prepared the Gettys-
burg Speech with Greater Care 173
Mr. Everett's and Secretary Seward's Opinion of the Speech 174
The Reported Opinion of Mr. Everett 174
Had unconsciously risen to a Height above the Cultured
Thought of the Period 176
Intrinsic Excellence of the Speech first discovered by Euro-
pean Journals ... 176
How the News of Mr. Lincoln's Death was received by
Other Nations 176
Origin of Phrase " Government of the People, by the Peo-
ple, and for the People " 177
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE.
An Intrigue to appoint a Dictator 180
" Power, Plunder, and Extended Rule " 181
Feared Nothing except to commit an Involuntary Wrong . 182
President of One Part of a Divided Country Not a Bed of
Mr. Lincoln asserts himself 184
Demands for General Grant's Removal 184
Distance from the White House to the Capitol 185
Stoical Firmness of Mr. Lincoln in standing by General Grant 185
Letter from Mr. Lincoln to General Grant 186
The Only Occasion of a Misunderstanding between the Presi-
dent and General Grant 187
Special Order Relative to Trade-Permits 188
Extract from Wendell Phillips's Speech ....... 189
Willing to abide the Decision of Time 190
Unworthy Ambition of Politicians and the Jealousies in the
Resignation of General Burnside Appointment of Suc-
War conducted at the Dictation of Political Bureaucracy . 193
Letter to General Hooker 194
Mr. Lincoln's Treatment of the Subject of Dictatorship . . 195
Symphony of Bull-Frogs 196
" A Little More Light and a Little Less Noise " .... 198
HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN.
Mr. Lincoln not a Creature of Circumstances ..... 199
Subordination of High Officials to Mr. Lincoln 200
The Condition of the Army at Beginning and Close of Gen-
eral McClellan's Command 201
Mr. Lincoln wanted to "borrow" the Army if General
McClellan did not want to use it 202
Mr. Lincoln's Opinion of General McClellan. A Protest
denouncing the Conduct of McClellan 203
Mr. Lincoln alone Responsible to the Country for General
McClellan's Appointment as Commander of the Forces
at Washington 204
Confidential Relationship between Francis P. Blair and Mr.
Mr. Blajr's Message to General McClellan 206
General McClellan repudiates the Obvious Meaning of the
Democratic Platform 207
Mr. Lincoln hopes to be "Dumped on the Right Side of the
Stream "....... 208
I>ast Appeal to General McClellan's Patriotism 208
Proposition Declined 210
Public Offices in no Sense a Fund upon which to draw for
the -Payment of Private Accounts 212
Busy letting Rooms while the House was on Fire .... 214
Peremptory Order to General Meade 214
Conditions of Proposition to renounce all Claims to Presi-
dency and throw Entire Influence in Behalf of Horatio
Mr. Thurlow Weed to effect Negotiation 216
Mr. Lincoln deterred from making the Magnanimous Self-
How Mr. Lincoln thought the Currency was made .... 217
Mr. Chase explains the System of Checks The President
impressed with Danger from this Source 218
First Proposition to Mr. Lincoln to issue Interest-Bearing
Notes as Currency The Interview between David
Taylor and Secretary Chase 220
Mr. Lincoln's Honesty Some Legal Rights and Moral
Mr. Lincoln annuls the Proceedings of Court-Martial in Case
of Franklin W. Smith and Brother 222
Senator Sherman omits Criticism of Lincoln 223
Release of Roger A. Pryor' ." 224
The "Trent "Affair 227
Spirit of Forgiveness (?) toward England 229
The Interview which led to the Appointment of Mr. Stanton
as Secretary of -War 230
Correspondence with Hon. William A. Wheeler .... 231
The Appointment of Mr. Stanton a Surprise to the Country 232
Mr. Stanton's Rudeness to Mr. Lincoln in 1858 236
Mr. Lincoln abandons a Message to Congress in Deference
to the Opinion of his Cabinet Proposed Appropriation
of $3,000,000 as Compensation to Owners of Liberated
Mr. Stanton's Refusal of Permits to go through the Lines
into Insurgent Districts 239
Not Much Influence with this Administration 239
Mr. Stanton's Resignation not accepted 239
The Seven. Words added by Mr. Chase to the Proclamation
of Emancipation 240
Differen.ce between " Qualified Voters" and "Citizens of the
State" . 240
Letter of Governor Hahn 241
Universal Suffrage One of Doubtful Propriety 242
Not in Favor of Unlimited Social Equality 242
The Conditions under which Mr. Lincoln wanted the War
to Terminate 243
The Rights and Duties of the Gentleman and of the Vagrant
are the Same in Time of War 245
What was. to. be the Disposition of the Leaders of the Re-
bellion. .. .. ,. 246
Mr. Lincoln a.nd. Jefferson Davis on an Imaginary Island . 247
Disposition pf .Jefferson Davis discussed at a Cabinet
Principal Events of Life of Mr. Davis after the War . . . 249
Discussing the .MUitary. Situation Terms of Peace must
emanate from Mr. Lincoln 250
Telegram to General Grant 251
Dignified Reply of General Grant 252
CONFLICT BETWEEN CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITY.
Difficulties attending the Execution of the Fugitive Slave
Civil Authority outranked the Military 255
District Jail an Objective Point 257
Resignation of Marshal 258
Marshal's Office made a Subject of Legislation in Congress 259
A Result of Blundering Legislation 259
Mr. Lincoln's Existence embittered by Personal and Political
Rev. Robert Collyer and the Rustic Employee 261
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION.
Conspiracy to kidnap Mr. Buchanan 264
Second Scheme of Abduction 265
Mr. Lincoln relates the Details of a Dangerous Ride . . . 265
A Search for Mr. Lincoln 271
Mr. Lincoln's Peril during Ceremonies of his Second In-
auguration Booth's Phenomenal Audacity .... 271
The Polish Exile from whom Mr. Lincoln feared Assault . 273
An Impatient Letter appealing to Mr. Lincoln's Prudence . 274
Mr. Lincoln's high Administrative Qualities 276
But Few Persons apprehended Danger to Mr. Lincoln . . 276
General Grant receives the News of the Assassination of
Mr. Lincoln A Narrow Escape 278
Last Passport written by Mr. Lincoln 280
Mr. Lincoln requested to make a Promise 280
Mr. Lincoln's Farewell to his Marshal . . \ , . 281
Lincoln's Last Laugh 282
Willing to concede Much to Democrats 286
Eastern Shore Maryland 287
Honesty in Massachusetts and Georgia 287
McClellan seems to be Lost 288
Battle of Antietam, Turning-point in Lincoln's Career . . 289
Motto for the Greenback 289
" Niggers will never be higher " 290
Lincoln in a Law Case 291
Lincoln's Views of the American or Know-Nothing Party . 299
Account of Arrangement for Cooper Institute Speech . . 300
" Rail Splitter " 303
INDEX OF LETTERS.
Black, Jeremiah S., 329
B "ggs, J as - A -, 3
Catron, J., 330
Davis, David, xxxii, 317, 324
Doubleday, A., 326
Douglas, S. A., 319
Faulkner, Chas. J., 327
Fell, Jesse W., 11
Field, Eugene, xxxv
Field, Kate, 306
Foster, Chas. H., 325
Grant, Gen., to Secy. Stanton,
Hanna, W. H., 317, 320, 326,
Harmon, O. F., 314
Hatch, O. M., 313, 316
Henderson, D. P., 331
Holt, J., 58
Hurlburt, Stephen A., 79
Kress, Jno. A., 256
Lamon, W. H., xxvi, 231, 274,
Lemon, J. E., 319
Lincoln, A., xxiii, xxix, 26, 106,
1 08, 1 86, 194, 241, 301, 309
Logan, S. T., xxviii, 328
McClure, A. K., vii
Murray, Bronson, 311, 312
Oglesby, R. J., 330
Perkins, A. J., 145
Pickens, Gov. F. W., 75, 78
Pleasanton, A., 289
Pope, John, 316
Scott, Winfield, 314
Seward, W. H., xxxi
Shaffer, J. W., 329
Smith, Jas. H., 312
Stanton, Ed. M., 252
Swett, Leonard, 313, 318
Taylor, Hawkins, 315, 327
Usher, Secy. J. P., v, xxv, 320,
Weed, Thurlow, 34
Weldon, Lawrence, xxxii, 318
Wentworth, Jno., 331
Wheeler, Wm. A., 234
Yates, Richard, xxiv
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
WARD HILL LAMON.
| ^ rV
l*M 'i*MstJhA*UA -\Jr-
if ^ *J
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON.
WARD H. LAMON was born in Frederick County,
about two miles north of Winchester, in the state of
Virginia, on the 6th day of January, 1828. Two years after
his birth his parents moved to Berkeley County in what is
now West Virginia, near a little town called Bunker Hill,
where he received a common school education. At the age
of seventeen he began the study of medicine which he soon
abandoned for law. When nineteen years of age he went
to Illinois and settled in Danville; afterwards attending
lectures at the Louisville (Ky.) Law School. Was admitted
to the Bar of Kentucky in March, 1850, and in January, 1851,
he was admitted to the Illinois Bar, which comprised Abra-
ham Lincoln, Judge Stephen T. Logan, Judge David Davis,
Leonard Swett, and others of that famous coterie, all of
whom were his fast friends.
Af&T>< f 4(T-&l~~~a*~X:-,
Conclusion of a Legal Document signed by Lincoln and Lamon.
They all rode the circuit together, there being no railroads
at that time in the State. And it has been said that, " It
is doubtful if the bar of any other state of the union equalled
that of the frontier state of Illinois in professional ability
when Lincoln won his spurs." A legal partnership was
formed between Mr. Lamon and Mr. Lincoln for the prac-
xxiv MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON.
tice of law in the eighth District. Headquarters of this
partnership was first at Danville and then at Bloomington.
Was elected District Attorney for the eighth District in
1856, which office he continued to hold until called upon
by Mr. Lincoln to accompany him to Washington. It was
upon Mr. Lamon that Mr. Lincoln and his friends relied to
see him safely to the National Capitol, when it became nec-
essary at Harrisburg to chose one companion for the rest
of the journey.*
He was appointed Marshal of the District of Columbia,
which position at that time was much more of a social func-
tion than it was in after years. The Marshal performed
some of the ceremonies which have since been delegated to
the Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds. He
introduced people to the President on state occasions and
* EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Feb. 9, 1861.
DEAR GOVERNOR, You will bear me witness that I seldom
trouble my friends in Washington with letters of introduction. I
must now ask you to indulge me in a suspension of this general
rule, especially as my object has as much to do with your future
as my own.
W. H. Lamon, Esq., of our state visits Washington upon the
invitation of Mr. Lincoln as his escort and companion. He is
one of our ablest young lawyers, a man of strong and vigorous
intellect and of influence throughout the entire state equal to.any
man in the state.
His social qualities upon intimate acquaintance are of the finest
type. He is chivalrous, courageous, generous.
His integrity is unquestioned. Though inclined to be conser-
vative, he is a Republican firm, and from principle. He is, however,
retiring and not disposed to press himself on any one. May I
ask of you that you will be kind to him as you were to me, and
very much oblige
HON. WM. H. SEWARD.
MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. XXV
was the general social factotum of the Executive Mansion.
The position of Marshal was not of his own choosing. Had
he consulted his own taste he would have preferred some
appointment in Europe.* It was almost settled that he was
to be sent as Consul to Paris, but in deference to Mr. Lin-
coln's wish to have him near him in the trying times which
he anticipated, he shouldered the duties of Marshal at this
dangerous period, when it was one of much friction and
difficulty, as slavery ruled for a hundred miles north and a
thousand miles south and west of the Capitol.
After the law was passed emancipating the slaves in the
District of Columbia, that territory was made, or sought to
be made, the asylum for the unemancipated slaves of the
States of Maryland and Virginia. Mr. Lincoln was not yet
ready to issue his general emancipation proclamation ; the
Fugitive Slave law was still in force and was sought to be
enforced. This condition of things was seized upon by
many political demagogues to abuse the President over the
shoulders of the Marshal. They exaggerated the truly de-
plorable condition of the bondmen and made execrable all
officers of the Government, whose duty it became to execute
laws of their own making.
The jail was at that time in the custody of the Marshal,
and he was responsible for the safe keeping of twice as many
criminals as his means of keeping them safely justified;
Feb. 4, 1 66 1.
HON. A. LINCOLN:
DEAR SIR, It affords me much satisfaction to hear that you
have invited our excellent friend W. H. Lamon to accompany
you to Washington and hope that there may be no necessity to
interfere with his appointment to the consulate at Paris, that will
give us all unbounded pleasure.
Very truly your friend,
J. P. USHER.
XXvi MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON.
Congress being responsible for the insufficiency of those
means. To have performed the official requirements of that
office in pursuance of the then existing laws and the official
oath required, and at the same time given satisfaction to
the radical element of the Republican party, was impossible;
hence the vindictive persecution that followed which con-
tinued in the Republican party against Marshal Lamon to
the end of his life.
Colonel Lamon was a strong Union man but was greatly
disliked by the Abolitionists; was considered proslavery by
them for permitting his subordinates to execute the old Mary-
land laws in reference to negroes, which had been in force
since the District was ceded to the Federal Government.
After an unjust attack upon him in the Senate, they at
last reached the point where they should have begun, intro-
duced a bill to repeal the obnoxious laws which the Marshal
was bound by his oath of office to execute. When the fight
on the Marshal was the strongest in the Senate, he sent in
the following resignation to Mr. Lincoln :
WASHINGTON, D. C., Jany. 31, 1862.
HON. A. LINCOLN, President, United States :
SIR, I hereby resign my office as Marshal for the District of
Columbia. Your invariable friendship and kindness for a long
course of years which you have ever extended to me impel me to
give the reasons for this course. There appears to be a studious
effort upon the part of the more radical portion of that party
which placed you in power to pursue me with a relentless persecu-
tion, and I am now under condemnation by the United States
Senate for doing what I am sure meets your approval, but by the
course pursued by that honorable body I fear you will be driven
to the necessity of either sustaining the action of that body, or
breaking with them and sustaining me, which you cannot afford
to do under the circumstances.
I appreciate your embarrassing position in the matter, and feel
as unselfish in the premises as you have ever felt and acted
MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. XXV11
towards me in the course of fourteen years of uninterrupted
friendship ; now when our country is in danger, I deem it but
proper, having your successful administration of this Government
more at heart than my own pecuniary interests, to relieve you of
this embarrassment by resigning that office which you were kind
enough to confide to my charge, and in doing so allow me to as-
sure you that you have my best wishes for your health and happi-
ness, for your successful administration of this Government, the
speedy restoration to peace, and a long and useful life in the en
joyment of your present high and responsible office.
I have the honor to be
Your friend and obedient servant,
WARD H. LAMON.
Mr. Lincoln refused to accept this resignation for reasons
which he partly expressed to Hon. William Kellogg, Mem-
ber of Congress from Illinois, at a Presidential reception
about this time. When Judge Kellogg was about to pass on
after shaking the President's hand Mr. Lincoln said, " Kel
logg, I want you to stay here. I want to talk to you when 1
have a chance. While you are waiting watch Lamon
(Lamon was making the presentations at the time). He
is most remarkable. He knows more people and can call
more by name than any man I ever saw."
After the reception Kellogg said, " I don't know but you
are mistaken in your estimate of Lamon ; there are many of
our associates in Congress who don't place so high an esti-
mate on his character and have little or no faith in him what-
ever." "Kellogg," said Lincoln, "you fellows at the other
end of the Avenue seem determined to deprive me of every
friend I have who is near me and whom I can trust. Now,
let me tell you, sir, he is the most unselfish man I ever saw ;
is discreet, powerful, and the most desperate man in emer-
gency I have ever seen or ever expect to see. He is my
friend and I am his and as long as I have these great re-
sponsibilities on me I intend to insist on his being with me,
and I will stick by him at all hazards." Kellogg, seeing he
XXVlil MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON.
had aroused the President more than he expected, said, " Hold
on, Lincoln ; what I said of our mutual friend Lamon was in
jest. I am also his friend and believe with you about him.
I only intended to draw you out so that I might be able to
say something further in his favor with your endorsement.
In the House today I defended him and will continue to do
so. I know Lamon clear through." " Well, Judge," said
Lincoln, " I thank you. You can say to your friends in the
House and elsewhere that they will have to bring stronger
proof than any I have seen yet to make me think that Hill
Lamon is not the most important man to me I have around
Every charge preferred against the Marshal was proven
groundless, but the Senators and Representatives who had
joined in this inexcusable persecution ever remained his
enemies as did also the radical press.*
The following is a sample of many letters received by
Colonel Lamon about this time:
March, 23, 1862.
... I was rather sorry that you should have thought that I
needed to see any evidence in regard to the war Grimes & Com-
pany were making on you to satisfy me as to what were the facts.
No one, however, had any doubt but that they made the attack on
you for doing your duty under the law. Such men as he and his
coadjutors think every man ought to be willing to commit perjury
or any other crime in pursuit of their abolition notions.
We suppose, however, that they mostly designed the attack on
you as a blow at Lincoln and as an attempt to reach him through
* At this time the Grand Jury of Washington County, District
of Columbia, found a bill of indictment against Horace Greeley,
of the New York " Tribune," for malicious libel of a public
officer, the U. S. Marshal. The Marshal was averse to this pro-
cedure, but the jury having the facts before them regarded the
offence as so flagrant that the case was vigorously prosecuted.
MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. XXIX
his friends. I do not doubt but they would be glad to drive every
personal friend to Lincoln out of Washington.
I ought to let you know, however, that you have risen more
than an hundred per cent in the estimation of my wife on account
of your having so acted as to acquire the enmity of the Abolition-
ists. I believe firmly that if we had not got the Republican
nomination for him (Lincoln) the Country would have been gone.
I don't know whether it can be saved yet, but I hope so. ...
Write whenever you have leisure.
S. T. LOGAN.
Mr. Lincoln had become very unpopular with the politi-
cians not so with the masses, however. Members of Con-
gress gave him a wide berth and eloquently " left him alone
with his Martial Cloak around him." It pained him that he
could not please everybody, but he said it was impossible.
In a conversation with Lamon about his personal safety
Lincoln said, " I have more reason today to apprehend danger
to myself personally from my own partisan friends than I
have from all other sources put together." This estrange-
ment between him and his former friends at such a time no
doubt brought him to a more confidential relation with
Colonel Lamon than would have been otherwise.
In May, 1861, Lamon was authorized to organize and com-
mand a regiment of volunteer Infantry, and subsequently his
command was increased to a brigade.*
Raising troops at the commencement of the war cost
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 25, 1861.
* COL. W. H. LAMON :
MY DEAR SIR, I spoke to the Secretary of War yesterday,
and he consents, and so do I, that as fast as you get Companies,
you may procure a U. S. officer, and have them mustered in.
Have this done quietly ; because we can not do the labor of adopt-
ing it as a general practice.
Yours as ever,
XXX MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON.
Colonel Lamon $22,000, for which he never asked the
Government to reimburse a dollar. Mr. Lincoln urged him
to put in his vouchers and receive it back, but Lamon did
not want to place himself in the position that any evil-
disposed person could question his integrity or charge him
with having wrongfully received from the Government one
His military service in the field, however, was of short
duration from May, 1861, to December of that year for
his services were in greater demand at the Nation's Capital.
He held the commission of Colonel during the war.
Colonel Lamon was charged with several important missions
for Mr. Lincoln, one of the most delicate and dangerous
being a confidential mission to Charleston, S. C., less than
three weeks before the firing on Sumter.
At the time of the death of Mr. Lincoln, Lamon was in
Richmond. It was believed by many who were familiar with
Washington affairs, including Mr. Seward, Secretary of State,
that had Lamon been in the city on the i4th of April, 1865,
that appalling tragedy at Ford's Theatre would have been
From the time of the arrival of the President-elect at
Washington until just before his assassination, Lamon
watched over his friend and Chief with exceeding intelligence
and a fidelity that knew no rest. It has been said of Lamon
that, "The faithful watch and vigil long with which he
guarded Lincoln's person during those four years was
seldom, if ever, equalled by the fidelity of man to man."
Lamon is perhaps best known for the courage and watchful
devotion with which he guarded Lincoln during the stormy
days of the Civil War.
After Lincoln's death it was always distasteful to Lamon
to go to the White House. He resigned his position in June
following Mr. Lincoln's death in the face of the remonstrance
of the Administration.
MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. Xxxi
The following is a copy of a letter of Mr. Seward accept-
ing his resignation :
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
WASHINGTON, June 10, 1865.
To WARD H. LAMON, Esq.,
Marshal of the United States
for the District of Columbia,
Washington, D. C.
MY DEAR SIR, The President directs me to acknowledge
the receipt of your letter of the 8th instant, in which you tender
your resignation as Marshal of the United States for the District
He accepts your resignation, as you desire, to take effect on
Monday, the i2th instant, but in so doing deems it no more than
right to say that he regrets that you should have asked him to do
so. Since his advent here, he has heard from those well qualified
to speak of your unwavering loyalty and of your constant per-
sonal fidelity to the late President. These are qualities which
have obtained for you the reputation of a faithful and fearless
public officer, and they are just such qualities as the Government
can ill afford to lose in any of its Departments. They will, I
doubt not, gain for you in any new occupation which you may
undertake the same reputation and the same success you have
obtained in the position of United States Marshal of this District.
Very truly yours,
(Signed) WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Colonel Lamon was never just to himself. He cared little
for either fame or fortune. He regarded social fidelity as one
of the highest virtues. When President Johnson wished to
make him a Member of his Cabinet and offered him the
position of Postmaster-General, Lamon pleaded the cause of
the incumbent so effectually that the President was compelled
to abandon the purpose.
Judge David Davis, many years on the U. S. Supreme
Bench, and administrator of Mr. Lincoln's estate, wrote the
following under date of May 23, 1865, to Hon. Wm. H.
Seward, Secretary of State.
XXxii MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON.
There is one matter of a personal nature which I wish to sug-
gest to you. Mr. Lincoln was greatly attached to our friend Col.
Ward H. Lamon. I doubt whether he had a warmer attachment
to anybody, and I know that it was reciprocated. Col. Lamon
has for a long time wanted to resign his office and had only held
it at the earnest request of Mr. Lincoln.
Mr. Lincoln would have given him the position of Governor of
Idaho. Col. Lamon is well qualified for that place. He would
be popular there. He understands Western people and few men
have more friends. I should esteem it as a great favor personally
if you could secure the place for him. If you can't succeed no-
body else can. Col. Lamon will make no effort and will use no
He is one of the dearest friends I have in the world. He may
have faults, and few of us are without them, but he is as true as
steel, honorable, high minded, and never did a mean thing in his
life. Excuse the freedom with which I have written.
May I beg to be remembered to your son and to your family.
Yours most truly,
The faithfulness till death of this noble man's friendship
is shown in the following letter written for him when he was
dying, twenty-one years later.
June 22, 1886.
COL. W. H. LAMON:
DEAR SIR, On my return from Washington about a month
since Judge Davis said to me that he had a long letter from you
which he intended to answer as soon as he was able to do so.
Since that time the Judge has been declining in health until he is
now beyond all capability of writing. I have not seen him for
three weeks until yesterday morning when I found him in lowest
condition of life. Rational when aroused but almost unconscious
of his surroundings except when aroused.
He spoke in the kindest terms of you and was much annoyed
because an answer to your letter was postponed. He requested
me this morning through Mrs. Davis to write you, while Mrs.
Davis handed me the letter. I have not read it as it is a personal
letter to the Judge. I don't know that I can say any more.
MEMOIR OF WARD H, LAMON. XXXlll
It was one of the saddest sights of my life to see the best and
truest friend I ever had emaciated with disease, lingering between
life and death. Before this reaches you the world may know of
his death. I understood Mrs. Davis has written you.
In striking contrast to this beautiful friendship is another
which one would pronounce equally strong were he to judge
the man who professed it from his letters to Lamon, cover-
ing a period of twenty-five years, letters filled throughout
with expressions of the deepest trust, love, admiration, and
even gratitude ; but in a book published last November
 there appear letters from this same man to one of
Lamon's bitterest enemies. In one he says, "Lamon was
no solid firm friend of Lincoln." Let us hope he was
sincere when he expressed just the opposite sentiment to
Lamon, for may it not have been his poverty and not his will
which consented to be thus " interviewed." He alludes twice
in this same correspondence to his poverty, once when
he gives as his reason for selling something he regretted to
have sold that " I was a poor devil and had to sell to live,"
and again, " are you getting rich ? I am as poor as Job's
One of Lamon's friends describes him :
" Of herculean proportions and almost fabulous strength and
agility, Lamon never knew what fear was and in the darkest days
of the war he never permitted discouragement to affect his courage
or weaken his faith in the final success of the Nation. Big-hearted,
genial, generous, and chivalrous, his memory will live long in the
land which he served so well."
Leonard Swett wrote in the " North American Review " :
" Lamon was all over a Virginian, strong, stout and athletic a
Hercules in stature, tapering from his broad shoulders to his heels,
and the handsomest man physically I ever saw. He was six feet
high and although prudent and cautious, was thoroughly courage-
XXXIV MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON.
ous and bold. He wore that night [when he accompanied Lincoln
from Harrisburg to Washington] two ordinary pistols, two der-
ringers and two large knives. You could put no more elements of
attack or defence in a human skin than were in Lamon and his
armory on that occasion. . . . Mr. Lincoln knew the shedding the
last drop of blood in his defence would be the most delightful act
of Lamon's life, and that in him he had a regiment armed and
drilled for the most efficient service."
The four or five thousand letters left by Colonel Lamon
show that his influence was asked on almost every question,
and show that Mr. Lincoln was more easily reached through
Colonel Lamon than by any other one man ; even Mrs. Lincoln
herself asked Lamon's influence with her husband. Extracts
from some of these letters may be found at the end of this
volume. They breathe the real atmosphere of other days.
After his resignation as Marshal, he resumed the practice
of law in company with Hon. Jeremiah S. Black and his
son, Chauncey F. Black.
Broken in health and in fortune, he went to Colorado in
1879, where he remained seven years. It was here that the
beautiful friendship began between Colonel Lamon and
Eugene Field. This friendship meant much to both of them.
To Eugene Field, then one of the editors of the Denver
" Tribune," who had only a boyhood recollection of Lincoln,
it meant much to study the history of the War and the mar-
tyred President with one who had seen much of both. To
Colonel Lamon it was a solace and a tonic, this association
with one in whom sentiment and humor were so delicately
One little incident of this friendship is -worth the telling
because of the pathetic beauty of the verses which it
One day when Field dropped in to see Lamon he found
him asleep on the floor. (To take a nap on the floor was a
habit of both Lamon and Lincoln, perhaps because they
MEMOIR OF WARD H. LASION. XXXV
both experienced difficulty in finding lounges suited to their
length Lamon was six feet two inches, Lincoln two inches
taller.) Field waited some time thinking Lamon would
wake up, but he did not ; so finally Field penciled the follow-
ing verses on a piece of paper, pinned it to the lapel of
Lamon's coat, and quietly left:
As you, dear Lamon, soundly slept
And dreamed sweet dreams upon the floor,
Into your hiding place I crept
And heard the music of your snore.
A man who sleeps as now you sleep,
Who pipes as music'ly as thou
Who loses self in slumbers deep
As you, O happy man, do now,
Must have a conscience clear and free
From troublous pangs and vain ado ;
So ever may thy slumbers be
So ever be thy conscience too !
And when the last sweet sleep of all
Shall smooth the wrinkles from thy brow,
May God on high as gently guard
Thy slumbering soul as I do now.
This incident occurred in the summer of 1882. Eleven
years after Colonel Lamon lay dying. He was conscious to
the last moment, but for the last sixteen hours he had lost
the power of speech. His daughter watched him for those
sixteen hours, hoping every moment he would be able to
speak. She was so stunned during this long watch that she
could not utter a prayer to comfort her father's soul, but just
before the end came, the last lines of the little poem came to
her like an inspiration which she repeated aloud to her dying
" And when the last sweet sleep of all
Shall smooth the wrinkles from thy brow,
May God on high as gently guard
Thy slumbering soul as I do now."
XXXVI MEMOIR OF WARD ff. LAMON.
These were the last words Colonel Lamon ever heard on
earth. He died at eleven o'clock on the night of May 7th,
1893; and many most interesting chapters of Lincoln's
history have perished with him.
"\1 7HEN Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the Presi-
dency in 1860, a campaign book-maker asked
him to give the prominent features of his life. He
replied in the language of Gray's " Elegy," that his life
presented nothing but
" The short and simple annals of the poor."
He had, however, a few months previously, written for
his friend Jesse W. Fell the following :
I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Harden County, Kentucky.
My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished
families second families, perhaps I should say. My
mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the
name of Hanks, some of whom now reside in Adams, some
others in Macon counties, Illinois My paternal grand-
father, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham
County, Virginia, to Kentucky, about 1781 or 2, where, a year
IO RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
or two later, he was killed by indians, not in battle, but by
stealth, when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest
His ancestors, who were quakers, went to Virginia from
Berks County, Pennsylvania An effort to identify them
with the New England family of the same name ended in
nothing more definite, than a similarity of Christian names in
both families, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon,
Abraham, and the like
My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of
age; and he grew up, literally without education He re-
moved from Kentucky to what is now Spencer county,
Indiana, in my eighth year We reached our new home
about the time the State came into the Union It was a
wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in
the woods There I grew up There were some schools,
so called ; but no qualification was ever required of a teacher,
beyond " readin, ivritin, and cipherin " to the Rule of
Three If a straggler supposed to understand latin hap-
pened to sojourn in the neighborhood, he was looked upon
as a wizzard There was absolutely nothing to excite
ambition for education. Of course when I came of age I did
not know much Still, somehow, I could read, write, and
cipher to the Rule of Three ; but that was all I have not
been to school since The little advance I now have upon
this store of education, I have picked up from time to time
under the pressure of necessity
I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was
twenty two At twenty one I came to Illinois, and
passed the first year in Macon county Then I got to
New-Salem at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard
county, where I remained a year as a sort of Clerk in a
store Then came the Black Hawk war ; and I was
elected a Captain of Volunteers a success which gave me
more pleasure than any I have had since I went the
campaign, was elected, ran for the Legislature the same year
EARLY A CQ UAINTANCE. 1 1
(1832) and was beaten the only time I ever have been
beaten by the people The next, and three succeeding
biennial elections, I was elected to the Legislature I was
not a candidate afterwards. During this Legislative period
I had studied law, and removed to Springfield to practice
it In 1846 I was once elected to the lower House of Con-
gress Was not a candidate for re-election From 1849
to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than
ever before Always a whig in politics ; and generally on
the whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses I was
losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise aroused me again What I have done since
then is pretty well known
If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it
may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly ;
lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and
eighty pounds ; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and
grey eyes No other marks or brands recollected
Yours very truly
J. W. Fell, Esq.
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 20, 1872.
We the undersigned hereby certify that the foregoing
statement is in the hand-writing of Abraham Lincoln.
* The circumstances under which the original preceding sketch
was written are explained in the following letter:
NATIONAL HOTEL, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
Feb. 19, 1872.
COLONEL WARD H. LAMON :
DEAR SIR, In compliance with your request, I place in your
hands a copy of a manuscript in my possession written by Abraham
Lincoln, giving a brief account of his early history, and the com-
12 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Were I to say in this polite age that Abraham Lincoln
was born in a condition of life most humble and obscure,
and that he was surrounded by circumstances most
unfavorable to culture and to the development of that
nobility and purity which his wonderful character after-
ward displayed, it would shock the fastidious and super-
fine sensibilities of the average reader, would be regarded
as prima facie evidence of felonious intent, and would
subject me to the charge of being inspired by an antago-
mencement of that political career which terminated in his election
to the Presidency.
It may not be inappropriate to say, that some time preceding
the writing of the enclosed, finding, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,
a laudable curiosity in the public mind to know more about the
early history of Mr. Lincoln, and looking, too, to the possibilities
of his being an available candidate for the Presidency in 1860, I
had on several occasions requested of him this information, and
that it was not without some hesitation he placed in my hands
even this very modest account of himself, which he did in the
month of December, 1859.
To this were added, by myself, other facts bearing upon his
legislative and political history, and the whole forwarded to a
friend residing in my native county (Chester, Pa.), the Hon.
Joseph J. Lewis, former Commissioner of Internal Revenue,
who made them the basis of an ably-written and somewhat elabo-
rate memoir of the late President, which appeared in the Pennsyl-
vania and other papers of the country in January, 1860, and which
contributed to prepare the way for the subsequent nomination at
Chicago the following June.
Believing this brief and unpretending narrative, written by him-
self in his own peculiar vein, and in justice to him I should add,
without the remotest expectation of its ever appearing in public,
with the attending circumstances, may be of interest to the
numerous admirers of that historic and truly great man, I place it
at your disposal.
I am truly yours,
JESSE W. FELL.
EARLY A CQ UAINTANCE. 1 3
nistic animus. In justice to the truth of history, how-
ever, it must be acknowledged that such are the facts
concerning this great man, regarding whom nothing
should be concealed from public scrutiny, either in the
surroundings of his birth, his youth, his manhood, or his
private and public life and character. Let all the facts
concerning him be known, and he will appear brighter
and purer by the test.
It may well be said of him that he is probably the
only man, dead or living, whose true and faithful life
could be written and leave the subject more ennobled
by the minutiae of the record. His faults are but " the
shadows which his virtues cast." It is my purpose in
these recollections to give the reader a closer view
of the great war President than is afforded by current
biographies, which deal mainly with the outward phases
of his life ; and in carrying out this purpose I will en-
deavor to present that many-sided man in those relations
where his distinguishing traits manifest themselves most
With the grandeur of his figure in history, with his
genius and his achievements as the model statesman and
chief magistrate, all men are now familiar ; but there yet
remain to be sketched many phases of his inner life.
Many of the incidents related in these sketches came to
my knowledge through my long-continued association
with him both in his private and public life ; therefore,
if the Ego shall seem at times pushed forward to undue
prominence, it will be because of its convenience, or
14 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
rather necessity, certainly not from any motive of self-
My personal acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln dates
back to the autumn of 1847. ^ n tnat year, attracted by
glowing accounts of material growth and progress in that
part of the West, I left my home in what was then
Berkeley County, Virginia, and settled at Danville, Ver-
million County, Illinois. That county and Sangamon,
including Springfield, the new capital of the State, were
embraced in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, which at that
early day consisted of fourteen counties. It was then
the custom of lawyers, like their brethren of England,
" to ride the circuit." By that circumstance the people
came in contact with all the lawyers in the circuit, and
were enabled to note their distinguishing traits. I soon
learned that the man most celebrated, even in those
pioneer days, for oddity, originality, wit, ability, and elo-
quence in that region of the State was Abraham Lincoln.
My great curiosity to see him was gratified soon after I
took up my residence at Danville.
I was introduced to Mr. Lincoln by the Hon. John T.
Stuart, for some years his partner at Springfield. After
a comical survey of my fashionable toggery, my swal-
low-tail coat, white neck-cloth, and ruffled shirt (an
astonishing outfit for a young limb of the law in that set-
tlement) , Mr. Lincoln said : " And so you are a cousin
of our friend John J. Brown ; he told me you were com-
ing. Going to try your hand at the law, are you? I
should know at a glance that you were a Virginian ; but
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 15
I don't think you would succeed at splitting rails. That
was my occupation at your age, and I don't think I have
taken as much pleasure in anything else from that day to
I assured him, perhaps as a sort of defence against the
eloquent condemnation implied in my fashionable claw-
hammer, that I had done a deal of hard manual labor in
my time. Much amused at this solemn declaration, Mr.
Lincoln said : " Oh, yes ; you Virginians shed barrels of
perspiration while standing off at a distance and superin-
tending the work your slaves do for you. It is different
with us. Here it is every fellow for himself, or he does n't
Mr. Lincoln soon learned, however, that my detesta-
tion of slave labor was quite as pronounced as his own,
and from that hour we were friends. Until the day of
his death it was my pleasure and good fortune to retain
his confidence unshaken, as he retained my affection
I was his local partner, first at Danville, and afterward
at Bloomington. We rode the circuit together, traveling
by buggy in the dry seasons and on horse-back in bad
weather, there being no railroads then in that part of the
State. Mr. Lincoln had defeated that redoubtable cham-
pion of pioneer Methodism, the Rev. Peter Cartwright,
in the last race for Congress. Cartwright was an oddity
in his way, quite as original as Lincoln himself. He was
a foeman worthy of Spartan steel, and Mr. Lincoln's
fame was greatly enhanced by his victory over the famous
1 6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
preacher. Whenever it was known that Lincoln was to
make a speech or argue a case, there was a general rush
and a crowded house. It mattered little what subject
he was discussing, Lincoln was subject enough for the
people. It was Lincoln they wanted to hear and see ;
and his progress round the circuit was marked by a
constantly recurring series of ovations.
Mr. Lincoln was from the beginning of his circuit-
riding the light and life of the court. The most trivial
circumstance furnished a back-ground for his wit. The
following incident, which illustrates his love of a joke,
occurred in the early days of our acquaintance. I, being
at the time on the infant side of twenty-one, took par-
ticular pleasure in athletic sports. One day when we
were attending the circuit court which met at Blooming-
ton, 111., I was wrestling near the court house with some
one who had challenged me to a trial, and in the scuffle
made a large rent in the rear of my trousers. Before I
had time to make any change, I was called into court to
take up a case. The evidence was finished. I, being
the Prosecuting Attorney at the time, got up to address
the jury. Having on a somewhat short coat, my misfor-
tune was rather apparent. One of the lawyers, for a
joke, started a subscription paper which was passed from
one member of the bar to another as they sat by a long
table fronting the bench, to buy a pair of pantaloons for
Lamon, " he being," the paper said, " a poor but
worthy young man." Several put down their names
with some ludicrous subscription, and finally the paper
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. \J
was laid by some one in front of Mr. Lincoln, he
being engaged in writing at the time. He quietly
glanced over the paper, and, immediately taking up his
pen, wrote after his name, "I can contribute nothing
to the end in view."
Although Mr. Lincoln was my senior by eighteen
years, in one important particular I certainly was in a
marvelous degree his acknowledged superior. One of
the first things I learned after getting fairly under way as
a lawyer was to charge well for legal services, a branch
of the practice that Mr. Lincoln never could learn. In
fact, the lawyers of the circuit often complained that his
fees were not at all commensurate with the service ren-
dered. He at length left that branch of the business
wholly to me ; and to my tender mercy clients were
turned over, to be slaughtered according to my pop-
ular and more advanced ideas of the dignity of our
profession. This soon led to serious and shocking
Early in our practice a gentleman named Scott placed
in my hands a case of some importance. He had a
demented sister who possessed property to the amount
of $10,000, mostly in cash. A "conservator," as he
was called, had been appointed to take charge of the
estate, and we were employed to. resist a motion to
remove the conservator. A designing adventurer had
become acquainted with the unfortunate girl, and know-
ing that she had money, sought to marry her ; hence the
motion. Scott, the brother and conservator, before we
1 8 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
entered upon the case, insisted that I should fix the
amount of the fee. I told him that it would be $250,
adding, however, that he had better wait ; it might not
give us much trouble, and in that event a less amount
would do. He agreed at once to pay $250, as he ex-
pected a hard contest over the motion.
The case was tried inside of twenty minutes; our
success was complete. Scott was satisfied, and cheer-
fully paid over the money to me inside the bar, Mr.
Lincoln looking on. Scott then went out, and Mr. Lin-
coln asked, "What did you charge that man?" I told
him $250. Said he : " Lamon, that is all wrong. The
service was not worth that sum. Give him back at least
half of it."
I protested that the fee was fixed in advance ; that
Scott was perfectly satisfied, and had so expressed him-
self. " That may be," retorted Mr. Lincoln, with a look
of distress and of undisguised displeasure, " but / am
not satisfied. This is positively wrong. Go, call him
back and return half the money at least, or I will not
receive one cent of it for my share."
I did go, and Scott was astonished when I handed
back half the fee.
This conversation had attracted the attention of the
lawyers and the court. Judge David Davis, then on our
circuit bench, called Mr. Lincoln to him. The judge
never could whisper, but in this instance he probably
did his best. At all events, in attempting to whisper
to Mr. Lincoln he trumpeted his rebuke in about these
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. iq
words, and in rasping tones that could be heard all
over the court room : " Lincoln, I have been watching
you and Lamon. You are impoverishing this bar by
your picayune charges of fees, and the lawyers have
reason to complain of you. You are now almost as
poor as Lazarus, and if you don't make people pay
you more for your services you will die as poor as Job's
turkey ! "
Judge O. L. Davis, the leading lawyer in that part of
the State, promptly applauded this malediction from
the bench; but Mr. Lincoln was immovable. "That
money," said he, " comes out of the pocket of a poor,
demented girl, and I would rather starve than swindle
her in this manner."
That evening the lawyers got together and tried Mr.
Lincoln before a moot tribunal called " The Ogmathorial
Court." He was found guilty and fined for his awful
crime against the pockets of his brethren of the bar.
The fine he paid with great good humor, and then kept
the crowd of lawyers in uproarious laughter until after
midnight. He persisted in his revolt, however, declar-
ing that with his consent his firm should never during its
life, or after its dissolution, deserve the reputation en-
joyed by those shining lights of the profession, " Catch
'em and Cheat "em."
In these early days Mr. Lincoln was once employed in
a case against a railroad company in Illinois. The case
was concluded in his favor, except as to the pronounce-
ment of judgment. Before this was done, he rose and
2O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
stated that his opponents had not proved all that was
justly due to them in offset, and proceeded to state
briefly that justice required that an allowance should be
made against his client for a certain amount. The
court at once acquiesced in his statement, and immedi-
ately proceeded to pronounce judgment in accordance
therewith. He was ever ready to sink his selfish love of
victory as well as his partiality for his client's favor and
interest for the sake of exact justice.
In many of the courts on the circuit Mr. Lincoln would
be engaged on one side or the other of every case on
the docket, and yet, owing to his low charges and the
large amount of professional work which he did for noth-
ing, at the time he left Springfield for Washington to take
the oath of office as President of the United States he
was not worth more than seven thousand dollars, his
property consisting of the house in which he had lived,
and eighty acres of land on the opposite side of the river
from Omaha, Neb. This land he had entered with his
bounty land-warrant obtained for services in the Black
Hawk War. 1
Mr. Lincoln was always simple in his habits and tastes.
He was economical in everything, and his wants were
few. He was a good liver ; and his family, though not
extravagant, were much given to entertainments, and
saw and enjoyed many ways of spending money not
observable by him. After all his inexpensive habits, and
a long life of successful law practice, he was reduced to
the necessity of borrowing money to defray expenses for
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 21
the first months of his residence at the White House.
This money he repaid after receiving his salary as Presi-
dent for the first quarter.
A few months after meeting Mr. Lincoln, I attended
an entertainment given at his residence in Springfield.
After introducing me to Mrs. Lincoln, he left us in con-
versation. I remarked to her that her husband was a
great favorite in the eastern part of the State, where I
had been stopping. " Yes," she replied, " he is a great
favorite everywhere. He is to be President of the
United States some day ; if I had not thought so I never
would have married him, for you can see he is not pretty.
But look at him ! Does n't he look as if he would make a
magnificent President? "
"Magnificent" somewhat staggered me; but there
was, without appearing ungallant, but one reply to make
to this pointed question. I made it, but did so under a
mental protest, for I am free to admit that he did not
look promising for that office ; on the contrary, to me he
looked about as unpromising a candidate as I could well
imagine the American people were ever likely to put
forward. At that time I felt convinced that Mrs. Lin-
coln was running Abraham beyond his proper distance in
that race. I did not thoroughly know the man then ;
afterward I never saw the time when I was not willing to
apologize for my misguided secret protest. Mrs. Lin-
coln, from that day to the day of his inauguration, never
wavered in her faith that her hopes in this respect would
22 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
In 1858, when Mr. Lincoln and Judge Douglas were
candidates for the United States Senate, and were mak-
ing their celebrated campaign in Illinois, General McClel-
lan was Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railroad,
and favored the election of Judge Douglas. At all
points on the road where meetings between the two
great politicians were held, either a special train or a
special car was furnished to Judge Douglas; but Mr.
Lincoln, when he failed to get transportation on the
regular trains in time to meet his appointments, was re-
duced to the necessity of going as freight. There being
orders from headquarters to permit no passenger to
travel on freight trains, Mr. Lincoln's persuasive powers
were often brought into requisition. The favor was
granted or refused according to the politics of the
On one occasion, in going to meet an appointment in
the southern part of the State, that section of Illinois
called Egypt, Mr. Lincoln and I, with other friends,
were traveling in the " caboose " of a freight train, when
we were switched off the main track to allow a special
train to pass in which Mr. Lincoln's more aristocratic
rival was being conveyed. The passing train was deco-
rated with banners and flags, and carried a band of
music which was playing " Hail to the Chief." As the
train whistled past, Mr. Lincoln broke out in a fit of
laughter and said, "Boys, the gentleman in that car
evidently smelt no royalty in our carriage."
On arriving at the point where these two political
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 2$
gladiators were to test their strength, there was the same
contrast between their respective receptions. The judgy
was met at the station by the distinguished Democratic
citizens of the place, who constituted almost the whole
population, and was marched to the camping ground to
the sound of music, shouts from the populace, and under
floating banners borne by his enthusiastic admirers. Mr.
Lincoln was escorted by a few Republican politicians ;
no enthusiasm was displayed, no music greeted his ears,
nor, in fact, any other sound except the warble of the
bull-frogs in a neighboring swamp. The signs and pros-
pects for Mr. Lincoln's election by the support of the
people looked gloomy indeed.
Judge Douglas spoke first, and so great was the enthu-
siasm excited by his speech that Mr. Lincoln's friends
became apprehensive of trouble. When spoken to on
the subject he said : " I am not going to be terrified by
an excited populace, and hindered from speaking my
honest sentiments upon this infernal subject of human
slavery." He rose, took off his hat, and stood before
that audience for a considerable space of time in a seem-
ingly reflective mood, looking over the vast throng of
people as if making a preliminary survey of their tenden-
cies. He then bowed, and commenced by saying : " My
fellow-citizens, I learn that my friend Judge Douglas said
in a public speech that I, while in Congress, had voted
against the appropriation for supplies to the Mexican
soldiers during the late war. This, fellow-citizens, is a
perversion of the facts. It is true that I was opposed to
24 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
the policy of the Administration in declaring war against
Mexico 8 ; but when war was declared, I never failed to
vote for the support of any proposition looking to the
comfort of our poor fellows who were maintaining the
dignity of our flag in a war that I thought unnecessary
and unjust."* He gradually became more and more
excited ; his voice thrilled and his whole frame shook.
I was at the time sitting on the stand beside Hon. O. B.
Ficklin, who had served in Congress with Mr. Lincoln in
1847. Mr. Lincoln reached back and took Ficklin by
the coat-collar, back of his neck, and in no gentle man-
ner lifted him from his seat as if he had been a kitten,
and said : " Fellow-citizens, here is Ficklin, who was at
that time in Congress with me, and he knows it is a lie."
He shook Ficklin until his teeth chattered. Fearing
that he would shake Ficklin's head off, I grasped Mr.
Lincoln's hand and broke his grip. Mr. Ficklin sat
down, and Lincoln continued his address.
After the speaking was over, Mr. Ficklin, who had
been opposed to Lincoln in politics, but was on terms of
* For some time before this speech Mr. Lincoln had been
receiving letters from friends inquiring as to the truth or falsity of
Mr. Douglas's charge. Knowing that he had opposed the war
with Mexico, while in Congress, they were in doubt whether or
not the charge was true, and believed that if true it would be dan-
gerous to his prospects. To one of these anxious friends he
writes under date of June 24, 1858 : " Give yourself no concern
about my voting against the supplies, unless you are without faith
that a lie can be successfully contradicted. There is not a word
of truth in the charge, and I am just considering a little as to the
best shape to put a contradiction in. Show this to whom you
please, but do not publish it in the papers."
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 25
warm personal friendship with him, turned to him and
said : " Lincoln, you nearly shook all the Democracy
out of me to-day."
Mr. Lincoln replied : " That reminds me of what
Paul said to Agrippa, which in language and substance I
will formulate as follows : I would to God that such
Democracy as you folks here in Egypt have were not only
almost, but altogether shaken out of, not only you, but
all that heard me this day, and that you would all join in
assisting in shaking off the shackles of the bondmen by
all legitimate means, so that this country may be made
free as the good Lord intended it."
Ficklin continued : " Lincoln, I remember of reading
somewhere in the same book from which you get your
Agrippa story, that Paul, whom you seem to desire to
personate, admonished all servants (slaves) to be obedi-
ent to them that are their masters according to the flesh,
in fear and trembling. It would seem that neither our
Saviour nor Paul saw the iniquity of slavery as you and
your party do. But you must not think that where you
fail by argument to convince an old friend like myself
and win him over to your heterodox abolition opinions,
you are justified in resorting to violence such as you
practiced on me to-day. Why, I never had such a shak-
ing up in the whole course of my life. Recollect that
that good old book that you quote from somewhere says
in effect this, ' Woe be unto him who goeth to Egypt for
help, for he shall fall. The holpen shall fall, and they
shall all fall together.' The next thing we know, Lin-
26 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
coin, you and your party will be advocating a war to kill
all of us pro-slavery people off."
" No, " said Lincoln, " I will never advocate such an
extremity ; but it will be well for you folks if you don't
force such a necessity on the country."
Lincoln then apologized for his rudeness in jostling
the muscular Democracy of his friend, and they sepa-
rated, each going his own way, little thinking then that
what they had just said in badinage would be so soon
realized in such terrible consequences to the country.
The following letter shows Lincoln's view of the politi-
cal situation at that time :
SPRINGFIELD, June n, 1858.
W. H. LAMON, Esq. :
My DEAR SIR, Yours of the pth written at Joliet is just
received Two or three days ago I learned that McLean
had appointed delegates in favor of Lovejoy, and thencefor-
ward I have considered his renomination a fixed fact. My
opinion if my opinion is of any consequence in this case,
in which it is no business of mine to interfere remains un-
changed, that running an independent candidate against
Lovejoy will not do ; that it will result in nothing but disas-
ter all round. In the first place, whoever so runs will be
beaten and will be spotted for life ; in the second place,
while the race is in progress, he will be under the strongest
temptation to trade with the Democrats, and to favor the
election of certain of their friends to the Legislature; thirdly,
I shall be held responsible for it, and Republican members
of the Legislature, who are partial to Lovejoy, will for that
purpose oppose us ; and, lastly, it will in the end lose us the
District altogether. There is no safe way but a convention ;
and if in that convention, upon a common platform which all
are willing to stand upon, one who has been known as an
if. / QZa/tr^r^
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 2/
Abolitionist, but who is now occupying none but common
ground, can get the majority of the votes to which all look
for an election, there is no safe way but to submit.
As to the inclination of some Republicans to favor Doug-
las, that is one of the chances I have to run, and which I
intend to run with patience.
I write in the court room. Court has opened, and I must
Yours as ever,
(Signed) A. LINCOLN.
During this senatorial campaign in 1858, Hon. James
G. Elaine predicted in a letter, which was extensively
published, that Douglas would beat Lincoln for the United
States Senate, but that Lincoln would beat Douglas for
President in 1860. Mr. Lincoln cut out the paragraph
of the letter containing this prediction, and placed it in
his pocket-book, where I have no doubt it was found
after his death, for only a very short time before that
event I saw it in his possession. 8
After Mr. Lincoln's election he was sorely beset by
rival claimants for the spoils of office in his own State,
and distracted by jealousies among his own party adhe-
rents. The State was divided so far as the Republican
party was concerned into three cliques or factions. The
Chicago faction was headed by Norman B. Judd and
Ebenezer Peck, the Bloomington faction by Judge David
Davis, Leonard Swett, and others, and that of Springfield
by J. K. Dubois, O. M. Hatch, William Butler, and
others ; and however anxious Mr. Lincoln might be to
honor his State by a Cabinet appointment, he was power-
28 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
less to do so without incurring the hostility of the
factions from which he could not make a selection.
Harmony was, however, in a large measure preserved
among the Republican politicians by sending Judd as
Minister to Prussia, and by anticipating a place on the
Supreme Bench for Judge Davis. Swett wanted nothing,
and middle Illinois was satisfied. Springfield controlled
the lion's share of State patronage, and satisfaction was
given all round as far as circumstances would allow.
Between the time of Mr. Lincoln's election and the
nth of February, 1861, he spent his time in a room in
the State House which was assigned to him as an office.
Young Mr. Nicolay, a very clever and competent clerk,
was lent to him by the Secretary of State to do his writ-
ing. During this time he was overrun with visitors from
all quarters of the country, some to assist in forming
his Cabinet, some to direct how patronage should be dis-
tributed, others to beg for or demand personal advance-
ment. So painstaking was he, that every one of the
many thousand letters which poured in upon him was
read and promptly answered. The burden of the new
and overwhelming labor came near prostrating him with
Some days before his departure for Washington, he
wrote to me at Bloomington that he desired to see me at
once. I went to Springfield, and Mr. Lincoln said to
me : " Hill, on the 1 1 th I go to Washington, and I want
you to go along with me. Our friends have already
asked me to send you as Consul to Paris. You know I
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 2<)
would cheerfully give you anything for which our friends
may ask or which you may desire, but it looks as if we
might have war. In that case I want you with me. In
fact, I must have you. So get yourself ready and come
along. It will be handy to have you around. If there
is to be a fight, I want you to help me to do my share
of it, as you have done in times past. You must go, and
go to stay."
JOURNEY FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON.
ON the nth of February, 1861, the arrangements
for Mr. Lincoln's departure from Springfield were
completed. It was intended to occupy the time remain-
ing between that date and the 4th of March with a grand
tour from State to State and city to city. Mr. Wood,
" recommended by Senator Seward," was the chief
manager. He provided special trains, to be preceded
by pilot engines all the way through.
It was a gloomy day : heavy clouds floated overhead,
and a cold rain was falling. Long before eight o'clock,
a great mass of people had collected at the station of the
Great Western Railway to witness the event of the day.
At precisely five minutes before eight, Mr. Lincoln, pre-
qeded by Mr. Wood, emerged from a private room in the
station, and passed slowly to the car, the people falling
back respectfully on either side, and as many as possible
shaking his hand. Having reached the train he ascended
the rear platform, and, facing the throng which had
closed around him, drew himself up to his full height,
removed his hat, and stood for several seconds in pro-
found silence. His eye roved sadly over that sea of up-
turned faces ; and he thought he read in them again the
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON, 31
sympathy and friendship which he had often tried, and
which he never needed more than he did then. There
was an unusual quiver on his lip, and a still more
unusual tear on his furrowed cheek. His solemn man-
ner, his long silence, were as full of melancholy eloquence
as any words he could have uttered. Of what was he
thinking? Of the mighty changes which had lifted him
from the lowest to the highest estate in the nation ; of the
weary road which had brought him to this lofty summit ;
of his poverty-stricken boyhood ; of his poor mother
lying beneath the tangled underbrush in a distant for-
est? Whatever the particular character of his thoughts,
it is evident that they were retrospective and painful.
To those who were anxiously waiting to catch words
upon which the fate of the nation might hang, it seemed
long until he had mastered his feelings sufficiently to
speak. At length he began in a husky tone of voice,
and slowly and impressively delivered his farewell to
his neighbors. Imitating his example, every man in
the crowd stood with his head uncovered in the fast-
"Friends, no one who has never been placed in a like
position can understand my feelings at this hour, nor the
oppressive sadness I feel at this parting. For more than a
quarter of a century I have lived among you, and during all
that time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands.
Here I have lived from my youth, until now I am an old man.
Here the most sacred ties of earth were assumed ; here all my
children were born ; and here one of them lies buried. To
you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, all that I am. ' All
32 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
the strange, checkered past seems to crowd now upon my
mind.' 1 To-day I leave you. I go to assume a task more
difficult than that which devolved upon Washington. Unless
the great God, who assisted him, shall be with me and aid
me, I must fail ; but if the same omniscient mind and almighty
arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support
me, I shall not fail, I shall succeed. Let us all pray that
the God of our fathers may not forsake us now. To Him
I commend you all. Permit me to ask that, with equal
security and faith, you will invoke His wisdom and guidance
for me. With these few words I must leave you, for how
long I know not. Friends, one and all, I must now bid you
an affectionate farewell."
Few more impressive utterances were ever made by
any one than found expression in this simple speech.
This farewell meant more to him than to his hearers.
To them it meant, "Good-by for the present," a
commendation of his dearest friends to the watchful care
of God until his return. To him it foreboded eternity
ere their reunion, his last solemn benediction until
the resurrection. He never believed he would return
to the hallowed scenes of his adopted State, to his
friends and his home. He had felt for many years that
he would suffer a violent death, and at different times
expressed his apprehensions before and after his election
The first night after our departure from Springfield
was spent in Indianapolis. Governor Yates, the Hon.
O. H. Browning, Jesse K. Dubois, O. M. Hatch, Josiah
Allen, of Indiana, and others, after taking leave of Mr.
Lincoln to return to their respective homes, took me
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 33
into a room, locked the door, and proceeded in the most
solemn and impressive manner to instruct me as to my
duties as the special guardian of Mr. Lincoln's person
during the rest of his journey to Washington. The
lesson was concluded by Uncle Jesse, as Mr. Dubois was
commonly called, who said : " Now, Lamon, we have
regarded you as the Tom Hyer of Illinois, with Morrissey
attachment. We intrust the sacred life of Mr. Lincoln to
your keeping ; and if you don't protect it, never return
to Illinois, for we will murder you on sight."
With this amiable threat, delivered in a jocular tone,
but with a feeling of deep, ill-disguised alarm for the
safety of the President-elect, in which they all shared,
the door was unlocked and they took their leave. If I
had been remiss in my duty toward Mr. Lincoln during
that memorable journey, I have no doubt those sturdy
men would have made good some part of their threat.
The journey from Springfield to Philadelphia was not
characterized by any scene unusual or more eventful
than what was ordinary on such occasions, notwithstand-
ing that so much has been written about thrilling dangers,
all of which were imagined but not encountered. Mr.
Lincoln's speeches were the all-absorbing events of the
hour. The people everywhere were eager to hear a
forecast of his policy, and he was as determined to keep
silence on that subject until it was made manifest in
his Inaugural Address. After having been en route
a day or two, he told me that he had done much hard
work in his life, but to make speeches day after day,
34 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
with the object of speaking and saying nothing, was the
hardest work he ever had done. " I wish," said he,
"that this thing were through with, and I could find
peace and quiet somewhere."
On arriving at Albany, N. Y., Mr. Thurlow Weed asked
me where Mr. Lincoln was going to be domiciled in
Washington until he was inaugurated. I told him
Messrs. Trumbull and Washburne had provided quarters
for him ; that they had rented a house on Thirteenth or
Fourteenth Street, N. W., for his reception, and that
Mr. Lincoln had submitted the matter to me, asking me
to confer with Capt. John Pope, one of our party who
was an old friend of his, and to make just such arrange-
ments as I thought best for his quarters in Washington.
Mr. Weed said, "It will never do to allow him to go
to a private house to be under the influence of State
control. He is now public property, and ought to be
where he can be reached by the people until he is
inaugurated." We then agreed that Willard's Hotel
would be the best place, and the following letter was
written to Mr. Willard to arrange for the reception of
the Presidential party :
ALBANY, Feb. 19, 1861.
DEAR WILLARD, Mr. Lincoln will be your guest.
In arranging his apartments, please reserve nearest him
apartments for two of his friends, Judge Davis and Mr.
(Signed) THURLOW WEED.
Mrs. Lincoln and one son accompany him.
UNIVERSIIY Crt ILLINOIS
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON'. 35
This arrangement was reported to Mr. Lincoln, who
said : " I fear it will give mortal offense to our friends,
but I think the arrangement a good one. I can readily
see that many other well meant plans will ' gang aglee,'
but I am sorry. The truth is, I suppose I am now public
property; and a public inn is the place where people
can have access to me."
Mr. Lincoln had prepared his Inaugural Address with
great care, and up to the time of his arrival in Washington
he had not shown it to any one. No one had been con-
sulted as to what he should say on that occasion. During
the journey the Address was made an object of special
care, and was guarded with more than ordinary vigilance.
It was carefully stored away in a satchel, which for the
most of the time received his personal supervision. At
Harrisburg, however, the precious bag was lost sight of.
This was a matter which for prudential reasons could
not be much talked about, and concerning which no
great amount of anxiety could be shown. Mr. Lincoln
had about concluded that his Address was lost. It at
length dawned upon him that on arriving at Harris-
burg he had intrusted the satchel to his son Bob, then
a boy in his teens. He at once hunted up the boy and
asked him what he had done with the bag. Robert
confessed that in the excitement of the reception he
thought that he had given it to a waiter of the hotel
or to some one, he could n't tell whom. Lincoln was in
despair. Only ten days remained until the inauguration,
and no Address ; not even a trace of the notes was
preserved from which it had been prepared.
36 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
I had never seen Mr. Lincoln so much annoyed, so
much perplexed, and for the time so angry. He seldom
manifested a spirit of anger toward his children, this
was the nearest approach to it I had ever witnessed.
He and I started in search of the satchel. We went
first to the hotel office, where we were informed that if
an employe of the hotel had taken charge of it, it would
be found in the baggage-room. On going there, we
found a great pile of all kinds of baggage in promiscuous
confusion. Mr. Lincoln's keen eye soon discovered a
satchel which he thought his own ; taking it in his hand
eagerly he tried his key ; it fitted the lock, the bag
opened, and to our astonishment it contained nothing
but a soiled shirt, several paper collars, a pack of cards,
and a bottle of whiskey nearly full. In spite of his
perplexity, the ludicrous mistake overcame Mr. Lincoln's
gravity, and we both laughed heartily, much to the
amusement of the bystanders. Shortly afterward we
found among the mass the bag containing the precious
I shall never forget Mr. Lincoln's expression and what
he said when he first informed me of his supposed loss,
and enlisted my services in search of it. He held his
head down for a moment, and then whispered : " Lamon,
I guess I have lost my certificate of moral character,
written by myself. Bob has lost my gripsack containing
my Inaugural Address. I want you to help me to find
it. I feel a good deal as the old member of the Meth-
odist Church did when he lost his wife at the camp-
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 37
meeting, and went up to an old elder of the church and
asked him if he could tell him whereabouts in hell his
wife was. In fact, I am in a worse fix than my Meth-
odist friend ; for if it were nothing but a wife that was
missing, mine would be sure to pop up serenely some-
where. That Address may be a loss to more than one
husband in this country, but I shall be the greatest
On our dark journey from Harrisburg to Philadelphia
the lamps of the car were not lighted, because of the
secret journey we were making. The loss of the Address
and the search for it was the subject of a great deal
of amusement. Mr. Lincoln said many funny things in
connection with the incident. One of them was that he
knew a fellow once who had saved up fifteen hundred
dollars, and had placed it in a private banking establish-
ment. The bank soon failed, and he afterward received
ten per cent of his investment. He then took his one
hundred and fifty dollars and deposited it in a savings
bank, where he was sure it would be safe. In a short
time this bank also failed, and he received at the final
settlement ten per cent on the amount deposited.
When the fifteen dollars was paid over to him, he held
it in his hand and looked at it thoughtfully; then he
said, " Now, darn yon, I have got you reduced to a
portable shape, so I'll put you in my pocket." Suiting
the action to the word, Mr. Lincoln took his Address
from the bag and carefully placed it in the inside pocket
of his vest, but held on to the satchel with as much
38 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
interest as if it still contained his " certificate of moral
While Mr. Lincoln, in the midst of his suite of attend-
ants, was being borne in triumph through the streets of
Philadelphia, and a countless multitude of people were
shouting themselves hoarse, and jostling and crushing
each other round his carriage, Mr. Felton, the president
of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railway,
was engaged with a private detective discussing the
details of an alleged conspiracy to murder him at Balti-
more. At various places along the route Mr. Judd, who
was supposed to exercise unbounded influence over the
new President, had received vague hints of the impending
Mr. Lincoln reached Philadelphia on the afternoon of
the. 2 1 st. The detective had arrived in the morning,
and improved the interval to impress and enlist Mr.
Felton. In the evening he got Mr. Judd and Mr. Felton
into his room at the St. Louis Hotel, and told them all
he had learned. Mr. Judd was very much startled, and
was sure that it would be extremely imprudent for Mr.
Lincoln to pass through Baltimore in open daylight,
according to the published programme. But he thought
the detective ought to see the President himself; and, as
it was wearing toward nine o'clock, there was no time to
lose. It was agreed that the part taken by the detective
and Mr. Felton should be kept secret from every one
but the President. Mr. Sanford, president of the Ameri-
can Telegraph Company, had also been co-operating in
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 39
the business, and the same stipulation was made with
regard to him.
Mr. Judd went to his own room at the Continental,
and the detective followed. The crowd in the hotel was
very dense, and it took some time to get a message
to Mr. Lincoln. But it finally reached him, and he
responded in person. Mr. Judd introduced the detec-
tive ; and the latter told his story again. Mr. Judd and
the detective wanted Mr. Lincoln to leave for Washing-
ton that night. This he flatly refused to do. He had
engagements with the people, he said, to raise a flag
over Independence Hall in the morning, and to exhibit
himself at Harrisburg in the afternoon, and these
engagements he would not break in any event. But he
would raise the flag, go to Harrisburg, get away quietly
in the evening, and permit himself to be carried to Wash-
ington in the way they thought best. Even this, however,
he conceded with great reluctance. He condescended
to cross-examine the detective on some parts of his nar-
rative ; but at no time did he seem in the least degree
alarmed. He was earnestly requested not to commu-
nicate the change of plan to any member of his party
except Mr. Judd, nor permit even a suspicion of it to
cross the mind of another.
In the mean time, Mr. Seward had also discovered
the conspiracy, and despatched his son to Philadelphia
to warn the President-elect of the terrible snare into
whose meshes he was about to run. Mr. Lincoln turned
him over to Judd, and Judd told him they already knew
40 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
about it. He went away with just enough information
to enable his father to anticipate the exact moment of
Mr. Lincoln's surreptitious arrival in Washington.
Early on the morning of the 22d, Mr. Lincoln raised
the flag over Independence Hall, and departed for Har-
risburg. On the way, Mr. Judd gave him a full and
precise detail of the arrangements that had been made
the previous night. After the conference with the de-
tective, Mr. Sanford, Colonel Scott, Mr. Felton, and the
railroad and telegraph officials had been sent for, and
came to Mr. Judd's room. They occupied nearly the
whole of the night in perfecting the plan. It was finally
agreed that about six o'clock the next evening Mr. Lin-
coln should slip away from the Jones Hotel at Harris-
burg, in company with a single member of his party.
A special car and engine was to be provided for him on
the track outside the depot ; all other trains on the road
were to be "side-tracked" until this one had passed.
Mr. Sanford was to forward skilled "telegraph-climbers,"
and see that all the wires leading out of Harrisburg were
cut at six o'clock, and kept down until it was known that
Mr. Lincoln had reached Washington in safety. The
detective was to meet Mr. Lincoln at the West Philadel-
phia Station with a carriage, and conduct him by a
circuitous route to the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and
Baltimore Station. Berths for four were to be pre-en-
gaged in the sleeping-car attached to the regular midnight
train for Baltimore. This train Mr. Felton was to cause
to be detained until the conductor should receive a pack-
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 41
age, containing important "government despatches,"
addressed to " E. J. Allen, Willard's Hotel, Washington."
This package was to be made up of old newspapers,
carefully wrapped and sealed, and delivered to the de-
tective to be used as soon as Mr. Lincoln was lodged
in the car.
Mr. Lincoln acquiesced in this plan. Then Mr. Judd,
forgetting the secrecy which the spy had so impressively
enjoined, told Mr. Lincoln that the step he was about to
take was one of such transcendent importance that he
thought " it should be communicated to the other gen-
tlemen of the party." Therefore, when they had arrived
at Harrisburg, and the public ceremonies and speech-
making were over, Mr. Lincoln retired to a private par-
lor in the Jones House ; and Mr. Judd summoned to
meet him there Judge Davis, Colonel Sumner, Major
Hunter, Captain Pope, and myself. Judd began the
conference by stating the alleged fact of the Baltimore
conspiracy, how it was detected, and how it was pro-
posed to thwart it by a midnight expedition to Washing-
ton by way of Philadelphia. It was a great surprise to
all of us.
Colonel Sumner was the first to break the silence.
"That proceeding," said he, "will be a damned piece of
Mr. Judd considered this a " pointed hit," but replied
that " that view of the case had already been presented
to Mr. Lincoln." Then there was a general interchange
of opinions, which Sumner interrupted by saying,
42 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
" I '11 get a squad of cavalry, sir, and cut our way to
Washington, sir ! "
"Probably before that day comes," said Mr. Judd,
" the inauguration day will have passed. It is important
that Mr. Lincoln should be in Washington on that day."
Thus far Judge Davis had expressed no opinion, but
had put various questions to test the truthfulness of the
story. He now turned to Mr. Lincoln, and said, " You
personally heard the detective's story. You have heard
this discussion. What is your judgment in the matter? "
" I have thought over this matter considerably since I
went over the ground with the detective last night. The
appearance of Mr. Frederick Seward with warning from
another source confirms my belief in the detective's
statement. Unless there are some other reasons be-
sides fear of ridicule, I am disposed to carry out Judd's
There was no longer any dissent as to the plan itself;
but one question still remained to be disposed of. Who
should accompany the President on his perilous ride?
Mr. Judd again took the lead, declaring that he and Mr.
Lincoln had previously determined that but one man
ought to go, and that I had been selected as the proper
person. To this Sumner violently demurred. " / have
undertaken," he exclaimed, " to see Mr. Lincoln to
Washington ! "
Mr. Lincoln was dining when a close carriage was
brought to the side door of the hotel. He was called,
hurried to his room, changed his coat and hat, and
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 43
passed rapidly through the hall and out of the door.
As he was stepping into the carriage, it became manifest
that Sumner was determined to get in also. " Hurry
with him ! " whispered Judd to me ; and at the same
time, placing his hand on Sumner's shoulder, he said
aloud, "One moment, Colonel ! " Sumner turned round,
and in that moment the carriage drove rapidly away.
" A madder man," says Mr. Judd, " you never saw."
We got on board the car without discovery or mishap.
Besides ourselves, there was no one in or about the car
except Mr. Lewis, general superintendent of the Penn-
sylvania Central Railroad, and Mr. Franciscus, superin-
tendent of the division over which we were about to
pass. The arrangements for the special train were made
ostensibly to take these two gentlemen to Philadelphia.
At ten o'clock we reached West Philadelphia, and
were met by the detective and one Mr. Kenney, an
under-official of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Bal-
timore Railroad, from whose hands the "important par-
cel" was to be delivered to the conductor of the
10.50 P.M. train. Mr. Lincoln, the detective, and
myself seated ourselves in a carriage which stood in
waiting; and Mr. Kenney sat upon the box with the
driver. It was nearly an hour before the Baltimore
train was to start ; and Mr. Kenney found it necessary
to consume the time by driving northward in search of
some imaginary person.
As the moment for the departure of the Baltimore
train drew near, the carriage paused in the dark shadows
44 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLA?.
of the depot building. It was not considered prudent
to approach the entrance.
We were directed to the sleeping-car. Mr. Kenney
ran forward and delivered the " important package," and
in three minutes the train was in motion. The tickets
for the whole party had been procured by George R.
Dunn, an express agent, who had selected berths in the
rear of the car, and had insisted that the rear door of
the car should be opened on the plea that one of the
party was an invalid, who would arrive late, and did not
desire to be carried through the narrow passage-way of
the crowded car. Mr. Lincoln got into his berth imme-
diately, the curtains were carefully closed, and the rest
of the party waited until the conductor came round,
when the detective handed him the "sick man's" ticket.
During the night Mr. Lincoln indulged in a joke or two,
in an undertone ; but with that exception the two
sections occupied by us were perfectly silent. The
detective said he had men stationed at various places
along the road to let him know if all was right ; and
he rose and went to the platform occasionally to observe
their signals, returning each time with a favorable report.
At thirty minutes past three the train reached Balti-
more. One of the spy's assistants came on board and
informed him in a whisper that " all was right." Mr.
Lincoln lay still in his berth ; and in a few moments
the car was being slowly drawn through the quiet streets
of the city toward what was called the Washington depot.
There again was another pause, but no sound more
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 45
alarming than the noise of shifting cars and engines.
The passengers, tucked away on their narrow shelves,
dozed on as peacefully as if Mr. Lincoln had never been
born, until they were awakened by the loud strokes of a
huge club against a night-watchman's box, which stood
within the depot and close to the track. It was an Irish-
man, trying to arouse a sleepy ticket-agent comfortably
ensconced within. For twenty minutes the Irishman
pounded the box with ever-increasing vigor, and at each
blow shouted at the top of his voice, " Captain ! it 's
four o'clock ! it's four o'clock ! " The Irishman seemed
to think that time had ceased to run at four o'clock, and
making no allowance for the period consumed by his
futile exercises, repeated to the last his original state-
ment that it was four o'clock. The passengers were
intensely amused; and their jokes and laughter at the
Irishman's expense were not lost upon the occupants of
the two sections in the rear.
In due time the train sped out of the suburbs of
Baltimore, and the apprehensions of the President and
his friends diminished with each welcome revolution of
the wheels. At six o'clock the dome of the Capitol
came in sight, and a moment later we rolled into that
long, unsightly building, the Washington depot. We
passed out of the car unobserved, and pushed along
with the living stream of men and women toward the
outer door. One man alone in the great crowd seemed
to watch Mr. Lincoln with special attention. Standing
a little to one side, he looked very sharply at him, and,
46 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 1 .
as he passed, seized hold of his hand, and said in a loud
tone of voice, "Abe, you can't play that on me ! " We
were instantly alarmed, and would have struck the stranger
had not Mr. Lincoln hastily said, " Don't strike him !
It is Washburne. Don't you know him? " Mr. Seward
had given to Mr. Washburne a hint of the information
received through his son ; and Mr. Washburne knew its
value as well as another.
The detective admonished Washburne to keep quiet
for the present, and we passed on together. Taking a
hack, we drove toward Willard's Hotel. Mr. Lincoln,
Mr. Washburne, and the detective got out in the street,
and approached the ladies' entrance, while I drove on
to the main entrance, and sent the proprietor to meet
his distinguished guest at the side door. A few minutes
later Mr. Seward arrived, and was introduced to the
company by Mr. Washburne. He spoke in very strong
terms of the great danger which Mr. Lincoln had so
narrowly escaped, and most heartily applauded the wis-
dom of the " secret passage."
It now soon became apparent that Mr. Lincoln wished
to be left alone. He said he was " rather tired ; " and,
upon this intimation, the party separated. The detec-
tive went to the telegraph-office and loaded the wires
with despatches in cipher, containing the pleasing in-
telligence that " Plums " had brought " Nuts " through
Mr. Lincoln soon learned to regret the midnight ride
to which he had yielded under protest. He was con-
FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 47
vinced that he had committed a grave mistake in listen-
ing to the solicitations of a professional spy and of
friends too easily alarmed, and frequently upbraided me
for having aided him to degrade himself at the very
moment in all his life when his behavior should have
exhibited the utmost dignity and composure. Neither
he nor the country generally then understood the true
facts concerning the dangers to his life. It is now an
acknowledged fact that there never was a moment from
the day he crossed the Maryland line, up to the time of
his assassination, that he was not in danger of death by
violence, and that his life was spared until the night of
the 1 4th of April, 1865, only through the ceaseless and
watchful care of the guards thrown around him.
IF before leaving Springfield Mr. Lincoln had become
weary of the pressure upon him for office, he found
no respite on his arrival at the focus of political intrigue
and corruption. The time intervening between his
arrival at Washington and his Inauguration was, for the
most part, employed in giving consideration to his In-
augural Address, the formation of his Cabinet, and the
conventional duties required by his elevated position.
The question of the new Administration's policy
absorbed nearly every other consideration. To get a
Cabinet that would work harmoniously in carrying out
the policy determined on by Mr. Lincoln was very
difficult. He was pretty well determined on the con-
struction of his Cabinet before he reached Washington ;
but in the minds of the public, beyond the generally
accepted fact that Mr. Seward was to be the Premier
of the new Administration, all was speculation and con-
jecture. All grades of opinion were advanced for his con-
sideration : conciliation was strongly urged ; a vigorous
war policy ; a policy of quiescent neutrality recommend-
ing delay of demonstrative action for or against war,
and all, or nearly all these suggestions were prompted
IN A UG URA TION. 49
by the most unselfish and patriotic motives. He was com-
pelled to give a patient ear to these representations, and
to hold his decisions till the last moment, in order that
he might decide with a full view of the requirements of
public policy and party fealty. 4
As late as the second of March a large and respectable
delegation of persons visited Mr. Lincoln to bring matters
to a conclusion. Their object was to prevent at all
hazards the appointment of Mr. Chase in the Cabinet.
They were received civilly and treated courteously.
The President listened to them with great patience.
They were unanimous in their opposition to Mr. Chase.
Mr. Seward's appointment, they urged, was absolutely
and indispensably required to secure for the Administra-
tion either the support of the North or a respectful
hearing at the South. They portrayed the danger of
putting into the Cabinet a man like Mr. Chase, who was
BO notoriously identified with and supported by men who
did not desire the perpetuation of the Union. They
strongly insisted that Mr. Chase would be an unsafe coun-
sellor, and that he and his supporters favored a Northern
republic, extending from the Ohio River to Canada,
rather than the Union which our fathers had founded.
They urged another argument, which to them seemed
of vital importance and conclusive, that it would not
be possible for Mr. Seward to sit in the Cabinet with
Mr. Chase as a member. To think of it was revolting
to him, and neither he nor his State could or would
5<D RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
These arguments, so earnestly put forth, distressed
Mr. Lincoln greatly. At length, after a long pause, he
replied that it was very difficult to reconcile conflicting
claims and interests ; that his greatest desire was to form
an Administration that would command the confidence
and respect of the country, and of the party which had
placed him in power. He spoke of his high regard for
Mr. Seward, of his eminent services, his great genius,
and the respect in which he was held by the country.
He said Mr. Chase had also great claims that no one
could gainsay. His claims were, perhaps, not so great
as Mr. Seward's ; but this he would not then discuss :
the party and the country wanted the hearty and har-
monious co-operation of all good men without regard to
Then there was an ominous pause. Mr. Lincoln went
to a drawer and took out a paper, saying, " I had written
out my choice and selection of members for the Cabinet
after most careful and deliberate consideration ; and now
you are here to tell me I must break the slate and begin
the thing all over again." He admitted that he had
sometimes apprehended that it might be as they had
suggested, that he might be forced to reconsider what
he regarded as his judicious conclusions ; and in view of
this possibility he had constructed an alternative list of
members. He did not like the alternative list so well
as the original. He had hoped to have Mr. Seward as
Secretary of State and Mr. Chase his Secretary of Trea-
sury. He expressed his regrets that he could not be
IN A UG URA TION. 5 1
gratified in this desire, and added that he could not
reasonably expect to have things just as he wanted them-
Silence prevailed for some time, and he then added :
"This being the case, gentlemen, how would it do for
us to agree upon a change like this? To appoint Mr.
Chase Secretary of the Treasury, and offer the State
Department to Mr. William L. Dayton, of New Jersey?"
The delegation was shocked, disappointed, outraged.
Mr. Lincoln, continuing in the same phlegmatic manner,
again referred to his high appreciation of the abilities of
Mr. Seward. He said Mr. Dayton was an old Whig,
like Mr. Seward and himself, and that he was from New
Jersey, and was " next door to New York." Mr. Seward,
he added, could go as Minister to England, where his
genius would find wonderful scope in keeping Europe
straight about our home troubles. The delegation was
nonplussed. They, however, saw and accepted the
inevitable. For the first time they realized that indomi-
table will of the President-elect which afterward became
so notable throughout the trying times of his Administra-
tion. They saw that "the mountain would not come
to Mahomet, with the conditions imposed, and so
Mahomet had to go to the mountain." The difficulty
was accommodated by Mr. Seward coming into the
Cabinet with Mr. Chase, and the Administrative or-
ganization was effected to Mr. Lincoln's satisfaction.
Mr. Seward was a Republican with centralizing ten-
dencies, and had been a prominent and powerful mem-
ber of the old Whig party, which had gone into decay.
52 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Mr. Chase was a State's Rights Federal Republican, not
having been strictly attached to either the Whig or
the Democratic organization ; he had for years been a
conspicuous leader of the Antislavery party, which had
risen on the ruins of the Whig party, while Mr. Seward
had cautiously abstained from any connection with the
Antislavery party per se. Mr. Lincoln adopted, whether
consciously or unconsciously, the policy of Washington
in bringing men of opposite principles into his Cabinet,
as far as he could do so, hoping that they would
harmonize in administrative measures ; and in doing
this in the case of Mr. Seward and Mr. Chase he
entirely reversed the original arrangement, by giving
Mr. Seward, a Republican centralist, the post of Jeffer-
son, a State's Rights Federal Republican ; and to
Mr. Chase, a Federal Republican, the post assigned to
Hamilton, a centralist.
There was a prevailing opinion among a great many
politicians that Mr. Seward had an overpowering influ-
ence with Mr. Lincoln ; and the belief was general that
he, in whose ability and moderation the conservative
people at the North seemed to have the most confi-
dence, would be the real head of the Administration.
This supposition was a great mistake. It underrated the
man who had been elected to wield the helm of govern-
ment in the troubled waters of the brewing storm. Mr.
Lincoln was as self-reliant a man as ever breathed the
atmosphere of patriotism. Up to the 2d of March, Mr.
Seward had no intimation of the purport of the Inaugural
INA UG URA TION. 5 3
Address. The conclusion was inevitable that if he was
to be at the head of the Administration, he would not
have been left so long in the dark as to the first act of
Mr. Lincoln's official life. When the last faint hope was
destroyed that Mr. Seward was virtually to be President,
the outlook of the country seemed to these politicians
The 4th of March at last arrived. Mr. Lincoln's
feelings, as the hour approached which was to invest him
with greater responsibilities than had fallen upon any of
his predecessors, may readily be imagined. If he saw in
his elevation another step toward the fulfilment of that
destiny which he at times believed awaited him, the
thought served but to tinge with a peculiar, almost
poetic, sadness the manner in which he addressed
himself to the solemn duties of the hour.
There were apprehensions of danger to Mr. Lincoln's
person, and extensive preparations were made for his
protection, under the direction of Lieutenant-General
Scott. The carriage in which the President-elect rode
to the Capitol was closely guarded by marshals and
cavalry, selected with care from the most loyal and
efficient companies of the veteran troops and marines.
Mr. Lincoln appeared as usual, composed and thought-
ful, apparently unmoved and indifferent to the excite-
ment around him. On arriving at the platform, he was
introduced to the vast audience awaiting his appearance
by Senator Baker, of Oregon. Stepping forward, in a
manner deliberate and impressive, the President-elect
54 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
delivered in a clear, penetrating voice his Inaugural
Address, closing this remarkable production with the
words, which so forcibly exemplified his character and
so clearly indicated his goodness of heart : " I am loath
to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must
not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it
must not break, our bonds of affection. The mystic
chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and
patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all
over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the
Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the
better angels of our nature."
The immense audience present was deeply impressed,
and with awe viewed the momentous character of the
occasion they were given to contemplate. The Address
produced comparatively little applause and no mani-
festations of disapprobation. All were moved with a
profound anxiety concerning their own respective States
and the future of their country; and the sentiments
they had just heard uttered from the Chief Executive
foreshadowed the storm awaiting the nation.
After the oath of office was administered to him by
the venerable Chief-Justice of the United States, Judge
Roger B. Taney, Mr. Lincoln was escorted to the Presi-
dential Mansion in the same order that was observed
in going to the Capitol, amid the firing of cannon
and the sound of music. Mr. Buchanan accompanied
him, and in taking his leave expressed his wish and
hope, in earnest and befitting language, that Mr. Lin-
JNA UG URA TION. 5 5
coin's Administration of the government would be a
happy and prosperous one.
The Inauguration over, every one seemed to have a
sense of relief : there had been no accident, no demonstra-
tion which could be construed as portending disturbance.
The New York delegation, on the night of the Inau-
guration, paid their respects to the President. He said
to them that he was rejoiced to see the good feeling
manifested by them, and hoped that our friends of the
South would be satisfied, when they read his Inaugural
Address, that he had made it as nearly right as it was
possible for him to make it in accordance with the
Constitution, which he thought was as good for the
people who lived south of the Mason and Dixon line
as for those who lived north of it.
GLOOMY FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT.
AFTER the first shout of triumph and the first glow
of exultation consequent on his Inauguration, Mr.
Lincoln soon began to realize with dismay what was
before him. Geographical lines were at last distinctly
drawn. He was regarded as a sectional representative,
elected President with most overwhelming majorities
north of Mason and Dixon's line, and not a single elec-
toral vote south of it. He saw a great people, compris-
ing many millions and inhabiting a vast region of our
common country, exasperated by calumny, stung by
defeat, and alarmed by the threats of furious fanatics
whom demagogues held up to them as the real and
only leaders of the triumphant party. His election had
brought the nation face to face with the perils that had
been feared by every rank and party since the dawn of
Independence, with the very contingency, the crisis in
which all venerable authority had declared from the
beginning that the Union would surely perish, and the
fragments, after exhausting each other by commercial
restrictions and disastrous wars, would find ignominious
safety in as many paltry despotisms as there were
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 57
On the 3d of March, 1861, the Thirty-sixth Congress
had reached the prescribed period of its existence, and
had died a constitutional death. Its last session of
three months had been spent in full view of an awful
public calamity, which it had made no effort to avert or
to mitigate. It saw the nation compassed round with a
frightful danger, but it proposed no plan either of con-
ciliation or defence. It adjourned forever, and left the
law precisely as it found it.
In his message to Congress, President Buchanan had
said : " Congress alone has power to decide whether the
present laws can or cannot be amended so as to carry
out more effectually the objects of the Constitution."
With Congress rested the whole responsibility of peace
or war, and with them the message left it. But Congress
behaved like a body of men who thought that the calami-
ties of the nation were no special business of theirs.
The members from the extreme South were watching for
the proper moment to retire; those from the middle
slave States were a minority which could only stand and
wait upon the movements of others ; while the great and
all-powerful Northern party was what the French minis-
ter called "a mere aggregation of individual ambitions."
They had always denied the possibility of a dissolution
of the Union in any conjuncture of circumstances ; and
their habit of disregarding the evidence was too strong
to be suddenly changed. In the philosophy of their
politics it had not been dreamed of as a possible thing.
Even when they saw it assume the shape of a fixed and
58 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
terrible fact, they could not comprehend its meaning.
They looked at the frightful phenomenon as a crowd of
barbarians might look at an eclipse of the sun : they saw
the light of heaven extinguished and the earth covered
with strange and unaccountable darkness, but they could
neither understand its cause nor foresee its end, they
knew neither whence it came nor what it portended.
The nation was going to pieces, and Congress left it to
its fate. The vessel, freighted with all the hopes and all
the wealth of thirty millions of free people was drifting
to her doom, and they who alone had power to control
her course refused to lay a finger on the helm.
Only a few days before the convening of this Con-
gress the following letter was written by Hon. Joseph
Holt, Postmaster-General, afterward Secretary of War,
under Buchanan :
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 1860.
MY DEAR SIR, I am in receipt of yours of the 27th
inst., and thank you for your kindly allusion to myself, in
connection with the fearful agitation which now threatens
the dismemberment of our government. I think the Presi-
dent's message will meet your approbation, but I little hope
that it will accomplish anything in moderating the madness
that rules the hour. The indications are that the movement
has passed beyond the reach of human control. God alone
can disarm the cloud of its lightnings. South Carolina will
be out of the Union, and in the armed assertion of a distinct
nationality probably before Christmas. This is certain, un-
less the course of events is arrested by prompt and decided
action on the part of the people and Legislatures of the
Northern States ; the other slave States will follow South
Carolina in a few weeks or months. The border States,
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT, 59
now so devoted to the Union, will linger a little while; but
they will soon unite their fortunes with those of their South-
ern sisters. Conservative men have now no ground to stand
upon, no weapon to battle with. All has been swept from
them by the guilty agitations and infamous legislation of the
North. I do not anticipate, with any confidence, that the
North will act up to the solemn responsibilities of the
crisis, by retracing those fatal steps which have conducted
us to the very brink of perdition, politically, morally, and
There is a feeling growing in the free States which says,
" Let the South go ! " and this feeling threatens rapidly to
increase. It is, in part, the fruit of complete estrangement,
and in part a weariness of this perpetual conflict between
North and South, which has now lasted, with increasing
bitterness, for the last thirty years. The country wants
repose, and is willing to purchase it at any sacrifice. Alas
for the delusion of the belief that repose will follow the over-
throw of the government !
I doubt not, from the temper of the public mind, that the
Southern States will be allowed to withdraw peacefully ;
but when the work of dismemberment begins, we shall break
up the fragments from month to month, with the nonchalance
with which we break the bread upon our breakfast-table. If
all the grave and vital questions which will at once arise
among these fragments of the ruptured Republic can be
adjusted without resort to arms, then we have made vast
progress since the history of our race was written. But the
tragic events of the hour will show that we have made no
progress at all. We shall soon grow up a race of chieftains,
who will rival the political bandits of South America and
Mexico, and who will carve out to us our miserable heritage
with their bloody swords. The masses of the people dream
not of these things. They suppose the Republic can be
destroyed to-day, and that peace will smile over its ruins
6O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
to-morrow. They know nothing of civil war: this Marah in
the pilgrimage of nations has happily been for them a sealed
fountain ; they know not, as others do, of its bitterness, and
that civil war is a scourge that darkens every fireside, and
wrings every heart with anguish. They are to be commiser-
ated, for they know not what to do. Whence is all this?
It has come because the pulpit and press and the cowering,
unscrupulous politicians of the North have taught the people
that they are responsible for the domestic institutions of the
South, and that they have been faithful to God only by being
unfaithful to the compact which they have made to their
fellow-men. Hence those Liberty Bills which degrade the
statute-books of some ten of the free States, and are con-
fessedly a shameless violation of the federal Constitution in
a point vital to her honor. We have presented, from year to
year, the humiliating spectacle of free and sovereign States,
by a solemn act of legislation, legalizing the theft of their
neighbors' property. I say theft, since it is not the less so
because the subject of the despicable crime chances to be a
slave, instead of a horse or bale of goods.
From this same teaching has come the perpetual agitation
of the slavery question, which has reached the minds of the
slave population of the South, and has rendered every home
in that distracted land insecure. This is the feature of the
irrepressible conflict with which the Northern people are not
familiar. In almost every part of the South miscreant
fanatics have been found, and poisonings and conflagrations
have marked their footsteps. Mothers there lie down at
night trembling beside their children, and wives cling to
their husbands as they leave their homes in the morning. I
have a brother residing in Mississippi, who is a lawyer by
profession, and a cotton planter, but has never had any con-
nection with politics. Knowing the calm and conservative
tone of his character, I wrote him a few weeks since, and
implored him to exert his influence in allaying the frenzy of
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 6 1
the popular mind around him. He has replied to me at
much length, and after depicting the machinations of the
wretches to whom I have alluded, and the consternation
which reigns in the homes of the South, he says it is the
unalterable determination of the Southern people to over-
throw the government as the only refuge which is left to
them from these insupportable wrongs ; and he adds : " On
the success of this movement depends my every interest,
the safety of my roof from the firebrand, and of my wife and
children from the poison and the dagger."
I give you his language because it truthfully expresses the
Southern mind which at this moment glows as a furnace in
its hatred to the North because of these infernal agitations.
Think you that any people can endure this condition of
things ? When the Northern preacher infuses into his audi-
ence the spirit of assassins and incendiaries in his crusade
against slavery, does he think, as he lies down quietly at
night, of the Southern homes he has robbed of sleep, and the
helpless women and children he has exposed to all the name-
less horrors of servile insurrections ?
I am still for the Union, because I have yet a faint, hesi-
tating hope that the North will do justice to the South, and
save the Republic, before the wreck is complete. But action,
to be available, must be prompt. If the free States will
sweep the Liberty Bills from their codes, propose a conven-
tion of the States, and offer guaranties which will afford the
same repose and safety to Southern homes and property
enjoyed by those of the North, the impending tragedy may
be averted, but not otherwise. I feel a positive personal
humiliation as a member of the human family in the events
now preparing. If the Republic is to be offered as a sacri-
fice upon the altar of American servitude, then the question
of man's capacity for self-government is forever settled.
The derision of the world will henceforth justly treat the pre-
tension as a farce ; and the blessed hope which for five
62 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
thousand years our race, amid storms and battles, has been
hugging to its bosom, will be demonstrated to be a phantom
and a dream.
Pardon these hurried and disjointed words. They have
been pressed out of my heart by the sorrows that are weigh-
ing upon it.
Sincerely your friend,
Within forty-eight hours after the election of Mr.
Lincoln, the Legislature of South Carolina called a State
Convention. It met on the xyth of December, and
three days later the inevitable ordinance of secession
was formally adopted, and the little commonwealth be-
gan to act under the erroneous impression that she was
a sovereign and independent nation. She benignantly
accepted the postal service of the " late United States of
America," and even permitted the gold and silver coins
of the federal government to circulate within her sacred
limits. But intelligence from the rest of the country was
published in her newspapers under the head of " foreign
news;" her governor appointed a "cabinet," commis-
sioned " ambassadors," and practised so many fantastic
imitations of greatness and power, that, but for the
serious purpose and the bloody event, his proceedings
would have been very amusing. It was a curious little
comedy between the acts of a hideous tragedy.
In the practice which provoked the fury of his North-
ern countrymen, the slaveholder could see nothing but
what was right in the sight of God, and just as between
man and man. Slavery, he said, was as old almost as
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 63
time. From the hour of deliverance to the day of
dispersion, it had been practised by the peculiar people
of God, with the awful sanction of a theocratic State.
When the Saviour came with his fan in his hand, he not
only spared it from all rebuke, but recognized and regu-
lated it as an institution in which he found no evil. The
Church had bowed to the authority and emulated the
example of the Master. With her aid and countenance,
slavery had flourished in every age and country since the
Christian era; in new lands she planted it, in the old
she upheld and encouraged it. Even the modest of the
sectaries had bought and sold, without a shade of doubt
or a twinge of conscience, the bondmen who fell to their
lot, until the stock was exhausted or the trade became
unprofitable. To this rule the Puritans and Quakers
were no exceptions. Indeed, it was but a few years
since slavery in Massachusetts had been suffered to die
of its own accord, and the profits of the slave-trade were
still to be seen in the stately mansions and pleasant
gardens of her maritime towns.
The Southern man could see no reason of State, of
law, or of religion which required him to yield his most
ancient rights and his most valuable property to the
new-born zeal of adversaries whom he more than sus-
pected of being actuated by mere malignity under the
guise of philanthropy. All that he knew or had ever
known of the policy of the State, of religion, or of law
was on the side of slavery. It was his inheritance in the
land descended from his remotest ancestry; recorded
64 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
in the deeds and written in the wills of his nearest
kindred ; interwoven more or less intimately with every
tradition and every precious memory; the basis of
public economy and of private prosperity, fostered by
the maternal care of Great Britain, and, unlike any
other domestic institution, solemnly protected by sep-
arate and distinct provisions in the fundamental law of
the federal Union. It was, therefore, as much a part
of his religion to cherish and defend it as it was part of
the religion of an Abolitionist to denounce and assail
it. To him, at least, it was still pure and of good report ;
he held it as sacred as marriage, as sacred as the rela-
tion of parent and child. Forcible abolition was in his
eyes as lawless and cruel as arbitrary divorce, or the
violent abduction of his offspring ; it bereft his fireside,
broke up his family, set his own household in arms
against him, and deluded to their ruin those whom the
Lord had given into his hand for a wise and beneficent
purpose. He saw in the extinction of slavery the ex-
tinction of society and the subversion of the State ;
his imagination could compass no crime more daring
in the conception, or more terrible in the execution.
He saw in it the violation of every law, human and
divine, from the Ten Commandments to the last Act of
Assembly, the inauguration of every disaster and of
every enormity which men in their sober senses equally
fear and detest ; it was the knife to his throat, the torch
to his roof, a peril unutterable to his wife and daughter,
and certain penury, or worse, to such of his posterity
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 6$
as might survive to other times. We smile at his
delusion, and laugh at his fears ; but we forget that they
were shared by eight millions of intelligent people, and
had been entertained by the entire generation of patriots
and statesmen who made the Union, by Jefferson who
opposed slavery and "trembled" for the judgment, as
by the New- England ship-owner and the Georgia planter,
who struck hands to continue the African slave-trade
Mr. Lincoln himself, with that charity for honest but
mistaken opinions which more than once induced him
to pause long and reflect seriously before committing
his Administration to the extremities of party rage, de-
clared in an elaborate speech, that, had his lot been cast
in the South, he would no doubt have been a zealous
defender of the " peculiar institution," and confessed,
that, were he then possessed of unlimited power, he
would not know how to liberate the slaves without fatally
disturbing the peace and prosperity of the country. He
had once said in a speech ; " The Southern people are
just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did
not now exist among them, they would not introduce it :
if it did now exist among us, we should not instantly give
it up. This I believe of the masses North and South.
Doubtless, there are individuals on both sides who
would not hold slaves under any circumstances; and
others would gladly introduce slavery anew if it were
out of existence. We know that some Southern men do
free their slaves, go North, and become tip-top Aboli-
66 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
tionists ; while some Northern men go South, and become
Judge Jeremiah S. Black, in a paper written in re-
sponse to a memorial address on William H. Seward,
said : " The Southern people sprang from a race ac-
customed for two thousand years to dominate over all
other races with which it came in contact. They
supposed themselves greatly superior to negroes, most
of them sincerely believing that if they and the African
must live together, the best and safest relations that could
be established between them was that of master and
servant. . . . Some of them believed slavery a danger-
ous evil, but did not see how to get rid of it. They felt
as Jefferson did, that they had the wolf by the ears :
they could neither hold on with comfort nor let go with
safety, and it made them extremely indignant to be
goaded in the rear. In all that country from the Potomac
to the Gulf there was probably not one man who felt
convinced that this difficult subject could be determined
for them by strangers and enemies ; seeing that we in
the North had held fast to every pound of human flesh
we owned, and either worked it to death or sold it for a
price, our provision for the freedom of unborn negroes
did not tend much to their edification. They had no
confidence in that ' ripening ' influence of humanity
which turned up the white of its eyes at a negro com-
pelled to hoe corn and pick cotton, and yet gloated over
the prospect of insurrection and massacre."
Further, emancipation was a question of figures as well
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 67
as feeling. The loss of four millions of slaves, at an
average value of six hundred dollars each, constituted in
the aggregate a sacrifice too vast to be contemplated for
a moment. Yet this was but a single item. The cotton
crop of 1860 was worth the round sum of a hundred and
ninety-eight million dollars, while that of 1859 was
worth two hundred and forty-seven million dollars, and
the demand still in excess of the supply. It formed the
bulk of our exchanges with Europe ; paid our foreign
indebtedness; maintained a great marine; built towns,
cities, and railways; enriched factors, brokers, and
bankers ; filled the federal treasury to overflowing, and
made the foremost nations of the world commercially
our tributaries and politically our dependants. A short
crop embarrassed and distressed all western Europe ; a
total failure, a war, or non- intercourse, would reduce
whole communities to famine, and probably precipitate
them into revolution. It was an opinion generally
received, and scarcely questioned anywhere, that cotton-
planting could be carried on only by African labor, and
that African labor was possible only under compulsion.
Here, then, was another item of loss, which, being pros-
pective, could neither be measured by statistics nor com-
puted in figures. Add to this the sudden conversion
of millions of producers into mere consumers, the de-
preciation of real estate, the depreciation of stocks and
securities as of banks and railways, dependent for their
value upon the inland commerce in the products of
slave-labor, with the waste, disorder, and bloodshed
68 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
inevitably attending a revolution like this, and you have
a sum-total literally appalling. Could any people on
earth tamely submit to spoliation so thorough and so
fatal? The very Bengalese would muster the last man,
and stake the last jewel, to avert it.
In the last days of March, 1861, I was sent by Presi-
dent Lincoln on a confidential mission to Charleston,
South Carolina. It was in its nature one of great
delicacy and importance; and the state of the public
mind in the South at that juncture made it one not
altogether free from danger to life and limb, as I was
rather roughly reminded before the adventure was con-
cluded. Throughout the entire land was heard the tumult
of mad contention; the representative men, the pol-
iticians and the press of the two sections were hurling
at one another deadly threats and fierce defiance ; sober
and thoughtful men heard with sickening alarm the deep
and not distant mutterings of the coming storm ; and all
minds were agitated by gloomy forebodings, distressing
doubts, and exasperating uncertainty as to what the
next move in the strange drama would be. Following
the lead of South Carolina, the secession element of
other Southern States had cut them loose, one by one,
from their federal moorings, and " The Confederate
States of America " was the result. It was at the virtual
Capital of the State which had been the pioneer in all
this haughty and stupendous work of rebellion that I
was about to trust my precious life and limbs as a
stranger within her gates and an enemy to her cause.
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 69
Up to this time, Mr. Lincoln had been slow to realize
or to acknowledge, even to himself, the awful gravity of
the situation, and the danger that the gathering clouds
portended. Certain it is that Mr. Seward wildly under-
rated the courage and determination of the Southern
people, and both men indulged the hope that pacific
means might yet be employed to arrest the tide of
passion and render a resort to force unnecessary. Mr.
Seward was inclined, as the world knows, to credit the
Southern leaders with a lavish supply of noisy bravado,
quite overlooking the dogged pertinacity and courage
which Mr. Lincoln well knew would characterize those
men, as well as the Southern masses, in case of
armed conflict between the sections. Mr. Lincoln had
Southern blood in his veins, and he knew well the
character of that people. He believed it possible to
effect some accommodation by dealing directly with the
most chivalrous among their leaders; at all events he
thought it his duty to try, and my embassy to Charleston
was one of his experiments in that direction.
It was believed in the South that Mr. Seward had
given assurances, before and after Lincoln's inauguration,
that no attempt would be made to reinforce the Southern
forts, or to resupply Fort Sumter, under a Republican
Administration. This made matters embarrassing, as
Mr. Lincoln's Administration had, on the contrary,
adopted the policy of maintaining the federal authority
at all points, and of tolerating no interference in the
enforcement of that authority from any source whatever.
7O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
When my mission to Charleston was suggested by
Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Seward promptly opposed it. "Mr.
President," said he, " I greatly fear that you are send-
ing Lamon to his grave. I fear they may kill him in
Charleston. Those people are greatly excited, and are
very desperate. We can't spare Lamon, and we shall
feel very badly if anything serious should happen
" Mr. Secretary," replied Mr. Lincoln, " I have known
Lamon to be in many a close place, and he has never
been in one that he did n't get out of. By Jing ! I '11
risk him. Go, Lamon, and God bless you ! Bring back
a Palmetto, if you can't bring us good news."
Armed with certain credentials from the President,
Mr. Seward, General Scott, Postmaster-General Blair,
and others I set out on my doubtful and ticklish
While I was preparing my baggage at Willard's Hotel,
General (then Mr. Stephen A.) Hurlbut, of Illinois, en-
tered my room, and seeing how I was engaged inquired
as to the object. He being an old and reliable friend, I
told him without hesitation ; and he immediately asked
if he might not be allowed to accompany me. He
desired, he said, to pay a last visit to Charleston, the
place of his birth, and to a sister living there, before the
dread outbreak which he knew was coming. I saw no
objection. He hurried to his rooms to make his own
preparations, whence, an hour later, I took him and his
wife to the boat.
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. Jl
On arriving at Charleston about eight o'clock Satur-
day night, the Hurlbuts went to the house of a kinsman,
and I went to the Charleston Hotel. It so happened
that several young Virginians arrived on the same train,
and stopped at the same hotel. They all registered
from Virginia, and made the fact known with some show
of enthusiasm that they had come to join the Con-
federate army. I registered simply " Ward H. Lamon,"
followed by a long dash of the pen.
That evening, and all the next day (Sunday), little
attention was paid to me, and no one knew me. I
visited the venerable and distinguished lawyer, Mr. James
L. Petigru, and had a conference with him, having
been enjoined to do so by Mr. Lincoln, who personally
knew that Mr. Petigru was a Union man. At the close
of the interview Mr. Petigru said to me that he seldom
stirred from his house; that he had no sympathy with
the rash movements of his people, and that few sympa-
thized with him ; that the whole people were infuriated
and crazed, and that no act of headlong violence by
them would surprise him. In saying farewell, with warm
expressions of good-will, he said that he hoped he should
not be considered inhospitable if he requested me not
to repeat my visit, as every one who came near him was
watched, and intercourse with him could only result in
annoyance and danger to the visitor as well as to himself,
and would fail to promote any good to the Union cause.
It was now too late, he said ; peaceable secession or war
72 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Governor Pickens and his admirable and beautiful
wife were boarding at the Charleston Hotel. Early
Monday morning I sent my card to the governor re-
questing an interview, and stating that I was from the
President of the United States. The answer came that
he would see me as soon as he was through with his
breakfast. I then strolled downstairs into the main
lobby and corridors, where, early as the hour was, I
soon discovered that something wonderful was " in the
wind," and, moreover, that that wonderful something was
embodied in my own person. I was not, like Hamlet,
" the glass of fashion and the mould of form," yet I was
somehow "the observed of all observers." I was con-
scious that I did not look like "the expectancy and
rose of the fair state ; " that my "personal pulchritude,"
as a witty statesman has it, was not overwhelming to
the beholder ; and yet I found myself at that moment
immensely, not to say alarmingly, attractive.
The news had spread far and wide that a great
Goliath from the North, a "Yankee Lincoln-hireling,"
had come suddenly into their proud city, uninvited, un-
heralded. Thousands of persons had gathered to see
the strange ambassador. The corridors, the main office
and lobby, were thronged, and the adjacent streets were
crowded as well with excited spectators, mainly of the
lower order, that class of dowdy patriots who in times
of public commotion always find the paradise of the
coward, the bruiser, and the blackguard. There was a
wagging of heads, a chorus of curses and epithets not at
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 73
all complimentary, and all eyes were fixed upon the
daring stranger, who seemed to be regarded not as the
bearer of the olive-branch of peace, but as a demon
come to denounce the curse of war, pestilence, and
famine. This was my initiation into the great "Un-
pleasantness," and the situation was certainly painful
and embarrassing ; but there was plainly nothing to do
but to assume a bold front.
I pressed my way through the mass of excited
humanity to the clerk's counter, examined the register,
then turned, and with difficulty elbowed my way through
the dense crowd to the door of the breakfast-room.
There I was touched upon the shoulder by an elderly
man, who asked in a tone of peremptory authority,
"Are you Mark Lamon?"
" No, sir ; I am Ward H. Lamon, at your service."
"Are you the man who registered here as Lamon,
" I registered as Ward H. Lamon, without designating
my place of residence. What is your business with
" Oh, well," continued the man of authority, " have
you any objection to state what business you have here
" Yes, I have." Then after a pause, during which I
surveyed my questioner with as much coolness as the
state of my nerves would allow, I added, " My business
is with your governor, who is to see me as soon as
he has finished his breakfast. If he chooses to impart
74 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
to you my business in this city, you will know it;
" Beg pardon ; if you have business with our governor,
it 's all right ; we "11 see."
Shortly after breakfast I was waited upon by one of
the governor's staff, a most courtly and agreeable gentle-
man, in full military uniform, who informed me that the
governor was ready to receive me.
My interview with Governor Pickens was, to me, a
memorable one. After saying to him what President
Lincoln had directed me to say, a general discussion
took place touching the critical state of public affairs.
With a most engaging courtesy, and an open frankness
for which that brave man was justly celebrated, he told
me plainly that he was compelled to be both radical
and violent ; that he regretted the necessity of violent
measures, but that he could see no way out of existing
difficulties but to fight out. " Nothing," said he, " can
prevent war except the acquiescence of the President
of the United States in secession, and his unalterable
resolve not to attempt any reinforcement of the Southern
forts. To think of longer remaining in the Union is
simply preposterous. We have five thousand well-armed
soldiers around this city ; all the States are arming with
great rapidity; and this means war with all its conse-
quences. Let your President attempt to reinforce Sumter,
and the tocsin of war will be sounded from every hill-top
and valley in the South."
This settled the matter so far as accommodation was
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 75
concerned. There was no doubt in my mind that
Pickens voiced the sentiment of Rebellion.
My next duty was to confer with Major Anderson at
the beleaguered fort. On my intimating a desire to see
that officer, Governor Pickens promptly placed in my
hands the following:
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, 25 March, 1861.
Mr. Lamon, from the President of the United States,
requests to see Major Anderson at Fort Sumter, on busi-
ness entirely pacific ; and my aid, Colonel Duryea, will go
with him and return, merely to see that every propriety is
observed toward Mr. Lamon.
F. W. PICKENS, Governor.
A flag-of-truce steamer was furnished by the governor,
under charge of Colonel Duryea, a genial and accom-
plished gentleman to whom I am indebted for most
considerate courtesy, and I proceeded to Fort Sumter.
I found Anderson in a quandary, and deeply despondent.
He fully realized the critical position he and his men
occupied, and he apprehended the worst possible con-
sequences if measures were not promptly taken by the
government to strengthen him. His subordinates gener-
ally, on the contrary, seemed to regard the whole affair
as a sort of picnic, and evinced a readiness to meet any
fate. They seemed to be "spoiling for a fight," and
were eager for anything that might relieve the monotony
of their position. War seemed as inevitable to them as
to Governor Pickens.
76 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
After a full and free conference with Major Anderson,
I returned to the Charleston Hotel. The excited crowds
were still in the streets, and the hotel was overflowing
with anxious people. The populace seemed maddened
by their failure to learn anything of the purpose or
results of my visit. The aspect of things was threatening
to my personal safety, and Governor Pickens had already
taken steps to allay the excitement.
A rope had been procured by the rabble and thrown
into one corner of the reading-room ; and as I entered
the room I was accosted by a seedy patriot, somewhat
past the middle age. He was dressed in a fork-tailed
coat with brass buttons, which looked as if it might have
done service at Thomas Jefferson's first reception. He
wore a high bell-crowned hat, with an odor and rust of
antiquity which seemed to proclaim it a relic from the
wardrobe of Sir Walter Raleigh. His swarthy throat was
decorated with a red bandana cravat and a shirt-collar
of amazing amplitude, and of such fantastic pattern that
it might have served as a " fly " to a Sibley tent. This
individual was in a rage. Kicking the rope into the
middle of the room, and squaring himself before me,
"Do you think that is strong enough to hang a
damned Lincoln abolition hireling?"
To this highly significant interrogatory I replied, aim-
ing my words more at the crowd than at the beggarly
ruffian who had addressed me, " Sir, I am a Virginian
by birth, and a gentleman, I hope, by education and
JState of J&onth Ofarolina
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. fj
instinct. I was sent here by the President of the United
States to see your governor "
The seedy spokesman interrupted with, " Damn your
President ! "
I continued : "You, sir, are surrounded by your
friends by a mob ; and you are brutal and cowardly
enough to insult an unoffending stranger in the great
city that is noted for its hospitality and chivalry ; and
let me tell you that your conduct is cowardly in the
extreme. Among gentlemen, the brutal epithets you
employ are neither given nor received."
This saucy speech awoke a flame of fury in the mob,
and there is no telling what might have happened but
for the lucky entrance into the room at that moment of
Hon. Lawrence Keitt, who approached me and laying
his hand familiarly on my shoulder, said,
" Why, Lamon, old fellow, where did you come from ?
I am glad to see you."
The man with the brass buttons showed great aston-
ishment. "Keitt," said he, "do you speak to that
"Stop!" thundered Keitt ; "you insult Lamon, and
you insult me ! He is a gentleman, and my friend.
Come, Lamon, let us take a drink."
The noble and generous Keitt knew me well, and it
may be supposed that his " smiling " invitation was
music in one sinner's ears at least. Further insults to
the stranger from the loafer element of Charleston were
not indulged in. The extremes of Southern character'-
78 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
the top and the bottom of the social scale in the
slaveholding States were exemplified in the scene just
described, by Keitt and the blustering bully with the
shirt-collar. The first, cultivated, manly, noble, hospit-
able, brave, and generous ; the other, mean, unmanly,
unkempt, untaught, and reeking with the fumes of the
blackguard and the brute. 6
My instructions from Mr. Lincoln required me to see
and confer with the postmaster of Charleston. By this
time the temper of the riotous portion of the populace,
inflamed by suspicion and disappointed rage, made my
further appearance on the streets a hazardous adventure.
Again Governor Pickens, who despised the cowardice as
he deplored the excesses of the mob, interposed his
authority. To his thoughtful courtesy I was indebted
for the following pass, which enabled me to visit the
postmaster without molestation :
HEADQUARTERS, 25 March, 1861.
The bearer, Mr. Lamon, has business with Mr. Huger,
Postmaster of Charleston, and must not be interrupted by
any one, as his business in Charleston is entirely pacific in
F. W. PICKENS, Governor.
At eight o'clock that Monday night I took the train
for my return to Washington. At a station in the out-
skirts of the city my friends, General Hurlbut and wife,
came aboard. Hurlbut knew the conductor, who gave
him seats that were as private as possible. Very soon
the conductor slipped a note into my hands that was
FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 79
significant as well as amusing. It was from General
Hurlbut, and was in the following words :
Don't you recognize us until this train gets out of South
Carolina. There is danger ahead, and a damned sight of it.
This injunction was scrupulously observed. I learned
afterward that about all of Hurlbut's time in Charleston
had been employed in eluding the search of the vigilants,
who, it was feared, would have given him a rough wel-
come to Charleston if they had known in time of his
Without further adventure we reached Washington in
safety, only a few days before the tocsin of war was
sounded by the firing on Fort Sumter. On my return,
the President learned for the first time that Hurlbut had
been in South Carolina. He laughed heartily over my
unvarnished recital of Hurlbut's experience in the hot-
bed of secession, though he listened with profound and
saddened attention to my account of the condition of
things in the fort on the one hand, and in the State and
city on the other.
I brought back with me a Palmetto branch, but I
brought no promise of peace. I had measured the
depth of madness that was hurrying the Southern masses
into open rebellion ; I had ascertained the real temper
and determination of their leaders by personal contact
with them ; and this made my mission one that was
not altogether without profit to the great man at whose
bidding I made the doubtful journey.
r)OLITICAL definitions have undergone some curious
* changes in this country since the beginning of the
present century. In the year 1801, Thomas Jefferson
was the first " republican " President of the United
States, as the term was then defined. Sixty years later,
Abraham Lincoln was hailed as our first Republican
President. The Sage of Monticello was, indeed, the
first to introduce at the Executive Mansion a genuine
republican code of social and official etiquette. It
was a wide departure from the ceremonial and showy
observances for which Hamilton, his great rival, had so
long contended, and which were peculiarly distasteful to
the hardy freemen of the new Republic.
Mr. Lincoln profoundly admired the Virginian. Noth-
ing in the career or the policy of Jefferson was nearer
his heart than the homely and healthful republicanism
implied in the term " Jeffersonian simplicity." While
Mr. Lincoln occupied the White House, his intercourse
with his fellow-citizens was fashioned after the Jeffer-
sonian idea. He believed that there should be the
utmost freedom of intercourse between the people and
their President. Jefferson had the truly republican idea
HIS SIMPLICITY. 8 1
that he was the servant of the people, not their master.
That was Lincoln's idea also. Jefferson welcomed to
the White House the humble mechanic and the haughty
aristocrat with the same unaffected cordiality. Mr.
Lincoln did the same. "There is no smell of royalty
about this establishment," was a jocular expression which
I have heard Mr. Lincoln use many times ; and it was
thoroughly characteristic of the man.
" Lincolnian simplicity " was, in fact, an improvement
on the code of his illustrious predecessor. The doors of
the White House were always open. Mr. Lincoln was
always ready to greet visitors, no matter what their rank
or calling, to hear their complaints, their petitions, or
their suggestions touching the conduct of public affairs.
The ease with which he could be approached vastly
increased his labor. It also led to many scenes at the
White House that were strangely amusing and sometimes
Early in the year 1865, certain influential citizens of
Missouri, then in Washington, held a meeting to consider
the disturbed state of the border counties, and to
formulate a plan for securing Executive interference in
behalf of their oppressed fellow-citizens. They " where-
ased " and " resolved " at great length, and finally
appointed a committee charged with the duty of visiting
Mr. Lincoln, of stating their grievances, and of demand-
ing the removal of General Fisk and the appointment of
Gen. John B. McPherson in his place. The committee
consisted of an ex-governor and several able and earnest
82 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
gentlemen deeply impressed with the importance of their
They entered the White House with some trepidation.
It was at a critical period of the war, and they supposed
it would be difficult to get the ear of the President.
Grant was on the march to Richmond, and Sherman's
army was returning from the sea. The committee knew
that Mr. Lincoln would be engaged in considering the
momentous events then developing, and they were there-
fore greatly surprised to find the doors thrown open to
them. They were cordially invited to enter Mr. Lin-
The ex-governor took the floor in behalf of the op-
pressed Missourians. He first presented the case of a
certain lieutenant, who was described as a very lonely
Missourian, an orphan, his family and relatives having
joined the Confederate army. Through evil reports
and the machinations of enemies this orphan had got
into trouble. Among other things the orator described
the orphan's arrest, his trial and conviction on the
charge of embezzling the money of the government ; and
he made a moving appeal to the President for a reopen-
ing of the case and the restoration of the abused man to
his rank and pay in the army. The papers in the case
were handed to Mr. Lincoln, and he was asked to
examine them for himself.
The bulky package looked formidable. Mr. Lincoln
took it up and began reading aloud : " Whereas, conduct
unbecoming an officer and a gentleman " " Whereas,
HIS SIMPLICITY. 83
without resentment the said lieutenant received a letter
from a man named , stating that the President must
be a negro ; " and " Whereas, the said lieutenant cor-
ruptly received while an officer on duty, from a man in
, the sum of forty dollars "
" Stop there ! " exclaimed the lieutenant, who was at
that moment behind the ex-governor's chair. " Why,
Mr. Lincoln beg pardon Mr. President, it wa' n't but
" Yes," said the governor, " that charge, Mr. President,
is clearly wrong. It was only thirty dollars, as we can
" Governor," said Mr. Lincoln, who was by this time
thoroughly amused, but grave as a judge, " that reminds
me of a man in Indiana, who was in a battle of words
with a neighbor. One charged that the other's daughter
had three illegitimate children. ' Now,' said the man
whose family was so outrageously scandalized, ' that 's a
lie, and I can prove it, for she only has two.' This case
is no better. Whether the amount was thirty dollars or
thirty thousand dollars, the culpability is the same."
Then, after reading a little further, he said : " I believe I
will leave this case where it was left by the officers who
The ex-governor next presented a very novel case.
With the most solemn deliberation he began : " Mr.
President, I want to call your attention .to the case of
Betsy Ann Dougherty, a good woman. She lived in
County, and did my washing for a long time. Her
84 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
husband went off and joined the rebel army, and I wish
you would give her a protection paper." The solemnity
of this appeal struck Mr. Lincoln as uncommonly
The two men looked at each other, the governor
desperately in earnest, and the President masking his
humor behind the gravest exterior. At last Mr. Lincoln
asked with inimitable gravity, " Was Betsy Ann a good
washerwoman ? "
" Oh, yes, sir ; she was indeed."
" Was your Betsy Ann an obliging woman ? "
" Yes, she was certainly very kind," responded the
"Could she do other things than wash?" continued
Mr. Lincoln, with the same portentous gravity.
" Oh, yes ; she was very kind very."
"Where is Betsy Ann?"
" She is now in New York, and wants to come back
to Missouri ; but she is afraid of banishment."
" Is anybody meddling with her? "
" No ; but she is afraid to come back unless you will
give her a protection paper."
Thereupon Mr. Lincoln wrote on a visiting card the
Let Betsy Ann Dougherty alone as long as she behaves
herself. A. LINCOLN.
He handed this card to her advocate, saying, " Give
this to Betsy Ann."
HIS SIMPLICITY. 85
" But, Mr. President, could n't you write a few words
to the officers that would insure her protection? "
"No," said Mr. Lincoln, "officers have no time now
to read letters. Tell Betsy Ann to put a string in this
card and hang it round her neck. When the officers
see this, they will keep their hands off your Betsy Ann."
A critical observer of this ludicrous scene could not
fail to see that Mr. Lincoln was seeking needed relaxation
from overburdening cares, relief from the severe mental
strain he was daily undergoing. By giving attention to
mirth-provoking trifles along with matters of serious
concern, he found needed diversion. We can never
know how much the country profited by the humor-
loving nature of this wonderful man.
After patiently hearing all the Missouri committee had
to say, and giving them the best assurances circumstances
would allow, he dismissed them from his presence,
enjoyed a hearty laugh, and then relapsed into his
accustomed melancholy, contemplative mood, as if look-
ing for something else, looking for the end. He sat
for a time at his desk thinking, then turning to me he
said : " This case of our old friend, the governor, and
his Betsy Ann, is a fair sample of the trifles I am con-
stantly asked to give my attention to. I wish I had
no more serious questions to deal with. If there were
more Betsy Anns and fewer fellows like her husband, we
should be better off. She seems to have laundered the
governor to his full satisfaction, but I am sorry she
did n't keep her husband washed cleaner."
86 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Mr. Lincoln was by nature singularly merciful. The
ease with which he could be reached by persons who
might profit by his clemency gave rise to many notable
scenes in the White House during the war.
Mr. Wheeler tells of a young man who had been con-
victed by a military court of sleeping at his post, a
grave offence, for which he had been sentenced to death.
He was but nineteen years of age, and the only son of a
widowed mother. He had suffered greatly with home-
sickness, and overpowered at night with cold and watch-
ing, was overcome by sleep. He had always been an
honest, faithful, temperate soldier. His comrades tele-
graphed his mother of his fate. She at once went to
Orlando Kellogg, whose kind heart promptly responded
to her request, and he left for Washington by the first
train. He arrived in that city at midnight. The boy
was to be executed on the afternoon of the next day.
With the aid of his friend, Mr. Wheeler, he passed the
military guard about the White House and reached the
doorkeeper, who, when he knew Mr. Kellogg's errand,
took him to Mr. Lincoln's sleeping-room. Arousing Mr.
Lincoln, Mr. Kellogg made known the emergency in a
few words. Without stopping to dress, the President
went to another room and awakened a messenger. Then
sitting down, still in undress, he wrote a telegram to the
officer commanding at Yorktown to suspend the exe-
cution of the boy until further orders. The telegram
was sent at once to the War Department, with directions
to the messenger to remain until an answer was received.
' HIS SIMPLICITY. 87
Getting uneasy at the seeming delay, Mr. Lincoln dressed,
went to the Department, and remained until the receipt
of his telegram was acknowledged. Then turning to
Kellogg, with trembling voice he said, " Now you just
telegraph that mother that her boy is safe, and I will go
home and go to bed. I guess we shall all sleep better
for this night's work."
A somewhat similar proof of Mr. Lincoln's mercy is the
story told of a very young man living in one of the south-
ern counties of Kentucky, who had been enticed into the
rebel army. After remaining with it in Tennessee a few
months he became disgusted or weary, and managed to
make his way back to his home. Soon after his arrival,
some of the military stationed in the town heard of his
return and arrested him as a rebel spy, and, after a mili-
tary trial, he was condemned to be hanged. His family
was overwhelmed with distress and horror. Mr. Lincoln
was seen by one of his friends from Kentucky, who
explained his errand and asked for mercy. " Oh, yes, I
understand ; some one has been crying, and worked
upon your feelings, and you have come here to work on
His friend then went more into detail, and assured
him of his belief in the truth of the story. After some
deliberation, Mr. Lincoln, evidently scarcely more than
half convinced, but still preferring to err on the side of
mercy, replied : " If a man had more than one life, I
think a little hanging would not hurt this one ; but after
he is once dead we cannot bring him back, no matter
88 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
how sorry we may be ; so the boy shall be pardoned."
And a reprieve was given on the spot.
The following incident will illustrate another phase of
Mr. Lincoln's character. A man who was then in jail at
Newburyport, Mass., as a convicted slave-trader, and
who had been fined one thousand dollars and sentenced
to imprisonment for five years, petitioned for a pardon.
The petition was accompanied by a letter to the Hon.
John B. Alley, a member of Congress from Lynn, Mass.
Mr. Alley presented the papers to the President, with a
letter from the prisoner acknowledging his guilt and the
justice of his sentence. He had served out the term of
sentence of imprisonment, but was still held on account
of the fine not being paid. Mr. Lincoln was much
moved by the pathetic appeal. He then, after pausing
some time, said to Mr. Alley : " My friend, this appeal
is very touching to my feelings, and no one knows my
weakness better than you. It is, if possible, to be too
easily moved by appeals for mercy ; and I must say that
if this man had been guilty of the foulest murder that
the arm of man could perpetrate, I might forgive him on
such an appeal. But the man who could go to Africa
and rob her of her children, and then sell them into
interminable bondage, with no other motive than that
which is furnished by dollars and cents, is so much worse
than the most depraved murderer that he can never
receive pardon at my hand. No, sir ; he may stay in
jail forever before he shall have liberty by any act of
mine.'? on t ^^x,u nm* . . .
HIS SIMPLICITY. 89
After the war had been fairly inaugurated, and several
battles had been fought, a lady from Alexandria visited
Mr. Lincoln, and importuned him to give an order for
the release of a certain church in that place which had
been seized and used as a hospital. He asked and was
told the name of the church, and that there were but
three or four wounded persons occupying it, and that the
inhabitants wanted it to worship in. Mr. Lincoln asked
her if she had applied to the post surgeon at Alexandria
to give it up. She answered that she had, and that she
could do nothing with him. " Well, madam," said he,
" that is an end of it then. We put him there to attend
to just such business, and it is reasonable to suppose that
he knows better what should be done under the circum-
stances than I do."
More for the purpose of testing the sentiments of this
visitor than for any other reason, Mr. Lincoln said :
" You say you live in Alexandria. How much would
you be willing to subscribe towards building a hospital
She replied : " You may be aware, Mr. Lincoln, that
our property has been very much embarrassed by the
war, and I could not afford to give much for such a
"Yes," said Mr. Lincoln, "and this war is not over
yet ; and I expect we shall have another fight soon, and
that church may be very useful as a hospital in which to
nurse our poor wounded soldiers. It is my candid
opinion that God wants that church for our wounded fel-
9O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
lows. So, madam, you will excuse me. I can do nothing
Afterward, in speaking of this incident, Mr. Lincoln
said that the lady as a representative of her class in
Alexandria reminded him of the story of the young man
who had an aged father and mother owning considerable
property. The young man being an only son, and be-
lieving that the old people had lived out their usefulness,
assassinated them both. He was accused, tried, and
convicted of the murder. When the judge came to pass
sentence upon him, and called upon him to give any
reason he might have why the sentence of death should
not be passed upon him, he with great promptness replied
that he hoped the court would be lenient upon him
because he was a poor orphan !
Two ladies from Tennessee called at the White House
one day, and begged Mr. Lincoln to release their hus-
bands, who were rebel prisoners at Johnson's Island.
One of the fair petitioners urged as a reason for the
liberation of her husband that he was a very religious
man ; and she rang the changes on this pious plea ad
nauseam. "Madam," said Mr. Lincoln, "you say your
husband is a religious man. Perhaps I am not a good
judge of such matters, but in my opinion the religion
that makes men rebel and fight against their government
is not the genuine article ; nor is the religion the right
sort which reconciles them to the idea of eating their
bread in the sweat of other men's faces. It is not the
kind to get to heaven on." After another interview,
HIS SIMPLICITY. 91
however, the order of release was made, Mr. Lincoln
remarking, with impressive solemnity, that he would
expect the ladies to subdue the rebellious spirit of their
husbands, and to that end he thought it would be well
to reform their religion. " True patriotism," said he,
" is better than the wrong kind of piety."
This is in keeping with a significant remark made
by him to a clergyman, in the early days of the war.
"Let us have faith, Mr. President," said the minister,
"that the Lord is on our side in this great struggle."
Mr. Lincoln quietly answered : " I am not at all con-
cerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always
on the side of the right ; but it is my constant anxiety
and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord's
Clergymen were always welcomed by Mr. Lincoln at
the White House with the respectful courtesy due to
their sacred calling. During the progress of the war,
and especially in its earlier stages, he was visited almost
daily by reverend gentlemen, sometimes as single visi-
tors, but more frequently in delegations. He was a
patient listener to the words of congratulation, counsel,
admonition, exhortation, and sometimes reproof, which
fell from the lips of his pious callers, and generally these
interviews were entertaining and agreeable on both sides.
It sometimes happened, however, that these visits were
painfully embarrassing to the President. One delega-
tion, for example, would urge with importunate zeal a
strict observance of the Sabbath day by the army ; others
92 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
would insist upon a speedy proclamation of emancipa-
tion ; while some recounted the manifold errors of com-
manding generals, complained of the tardy action of the
government in critical emergencies, and proposed sweep-
ing changes of policy in the conduct of the war.
There was scarcely a day when there were not several
delegations of this kind to visit him, and a great deal of
the President's valuable time was employed in this unim-
portant manner. One day he was asked by one of these
self-constituted mentors, how many men the rebels had
in the field? Mr. Lincoln promptly but seriously an-
swered, " Twelve hundred thousand, according to the
best authority." His listeners looked aghast. " Good
heavens ! " they exclaimed in astonishment. " Yes, sir ;
twelve hundred thousand, no doubt of it. You see, all
of our generals when they get whipped say the enemy
outnumbers them from three or five to one, and I must
believe them. We have four hundred thousand men in
the field, and three times four make twelve, don't you
see it? It is as plain to be seen as the nose on a man's
face ; and at the rate things are now going, with the
great amount of speculation and the small crop of fight-
ing, it will take a long time to overcome twelve hundred
thousand rebels in arms. If they can get subsistence
they have everything else, except a just cause. Yet it is
said that ' thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just.'
I am willing, however, to risk our advantage of thrice in
justice against their thrice in numbers."
On but one occasion that I can now recall was Mr.
HIS SIMPLICITY. 93
Lincoln's habitual good humor visibly overtaxed by these
well-meaning but impatient advisers. A committee of
clergymen from the West called one day; and the
spokesman, fired with uncontrollable zeal, poured forth a
lecture which was fault-finding in tone from beginning to
end. It was delivered with much energy, and the short-
comings of the Administration were rehearsed with pain-
ful directness. The reverend orator made some keen
thrusts, which evoked hearty applause from other gentle-
men of the committee.
Mr. Lincoln's reply was a notable one. With unusual
animation, he said : " Gentlemen, suppose all the prop-
erty you possess were in gold, and you had placed it in
the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River
on a rope. With slow, cautious, steady step he walks
the rope, bearing your all. Would you shake the cable,
and keep shouting to him, < Blondin ! stand up a little
straighter ! Blondin ! stoop a little more ; go a little
faster ; lean more to the south ! Now lean a little more
to the north ! ' would that be your behavior in such an
emergency ? No ; you would hold your breath, every
one of you, as well as your tongues. You would keep
your hands off until he was safe on the other side. This
government, gentlemen, is carrying an immense weight ;
untold treasures are in its hands. The persons man-
aging the ship of state in this storm are doing the best
they can. Don't worry them with needless warnings and
complaints. Keep silence, be patient, and we will get
you safe across. Good day, gentlemen. I have other
duties pressing upon me that must be attended to."
94 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
This incident made Mr. Lincoln a little shy of
preachers for a time. " But the latch-string is out,"
said he, " and they have the right to come here and
preach to me if they will go about it with some gentle-
ness and moderation." He firmly believed that
" To speak his thoughts is every freeman's right,
In peace and war, in council and in fight."
And from this republican idea he would suffer not the
slightest departure while he was President.
Soon after the affair just described, a man of remark-
able appearance presented himself at the White House
and requested an audience with Mr. Lincoln. He was
a large, fleshy man, of a stern but homely countenance,
and of a solemn and dignified carriage. He was dressed
in a neatly-fitting swallow- tailed coat, ruffled shirt of
faultless fabric, white cravat, and orange-colored gloves.
An immense fob chain, to which was attached a huge
topaz seal, swung from his watch-pocket, and he carried
a large gold-headed cane. His whole appearance was
that of a man of great intellect, of stern qualities, of
strong piety, and of dignified uncomeliness. He looked
in every way like a minister of the gospel, whose vigor-
ous mind was bent on godly themes, and whose present
purpose was to discourse to Mr. Lincoln on matters of
" I am in for it now," thought the President. "This
pious man means business. He is no common preacher.
Evidently his gloomy mind is big with a scheme of no
HIS SIMPLICITY. 95
The ceremony of introduction was unusually formal,
and the few words of conversation that followed were
constrained. The good man spoke with great delibera-
tion, as if feeling his way cautiously; but the evident
restraint which his manner imposed upon Mr. Lincoln
seemed not to please him. The sequel was amazing.
Quitting his chair, the portly visitor extended his
hand to Mr. Lincoln, saying as the latter rose and con-
fronted him : " Well, Mr. President, I have no business
with you, none whatever. I was at the Chicago conven-
tion as a friend of Mr. Seward. I have watched you
narrowly ever since your inauguration, and I called
merely to pay my respects. What I want to say is this :
I think you are doing everything for the good of the
country that is in the power of man to do. You are on
the right track. As one of your constituents I now say
to you, do in future as you damn please, and I will sup-
port you ! " This was spoken with tremendous effect.
" Why," said Mr. Lincoln in great astonishment, " I
took you to be a preacher. I thought you had come
here to tell me how to take Richmond," and he again
grasped the hand of his strange visitor. Accurate and
penetrating as Mr. Lincoln's judgment was concerning
men, for once he had been wholly mistaken. The scene
was comical in the extreme. The two men stood gazing
at each other. A smile broke from the lips of the
solemn wag and rippled over the wide expanse of his
homely face like sunlight overspreading a continent, and
Mr. Lincoln was convulsed with laughter.
96 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
"Sit down, my friend," said the President; "sit down.
I am delighted to see you. Lunch with us to-day. Yes,
you must stay and lunch with us, my friend, for I have
not seen enough of you yet."
The stranger did lunch with Mr. Lincoln that day.
He was a man of rare and racy humor, and the good
cheer, the fun, the wit, the anecdotes and sparkling con-
versation that enlivened the scene was the work of two
of the most original characters ever seen in the White
Shortly after the election of Mr. Lincoln, I talked
with him earnestly about the habits, manners, customs,
and style of the people with whom he had now to
associate, and the difference between his present sur-
roundings and those of his Illinois life, and wherein his
plain, practical, common-sense actions differed from the
polite, graceful, and elegant bearing of the cultivated
diplomat and cultured gentlemen of polite society.
Thanks to his confidence in my friendship and his affec-
tionate forbearance with me, he would listen to me with
the most attentive interest, always evincing the strongest
desire to correct anything in which he failed to be and
appear like the people with whom he acted ; for it was
one of the cardinal traits of his character to be like, of,
and for the people, whether in exalted or humble life.
A New Hampshire lady having presented to him a
soft felt hat of her own manufacture, he was at a loss
what to do on his arrival in Washington, as the felt hat
seemed unbecoming for a President-elect. He there-
HIS SIMPLICITY, 97
fore said to me : " Hill, this hat of mine won't do. It
is a felt one, and I have been uncomfortable in it ever
since we left Harrisburg. Give me that plug of yours,
until you can go out in the city and buy one either for
yourself or for me. I think your hat is about the style.
I may have to do some trotting around soon, and if I
can't feel natural with a different hat, I may at least look
respectable in it."
I went to a store near by and purchased a hat, and by
the ironing process soon had it shaped to my satisfaction ;
and I must say that when Mr. Lincoln put it on, he
looked more presentable and more like a President than
I had ever seen him. He had very defective taste in
the choice of hats, the item of dress that does more
than any other for the improvement of one's personal
After the hat reform, I think Mr. Lincoln still suffered
much annoyance from the tyranny of fashion in the
matter of gloves. His hat for years served the double
purpose of an ornamental head-gear and a kind of office
or receptacle for his private papers and memoranda.
But the necessity to wear gloves he regarded as an af-
fliction, a violation of the statute against "cruelty to
animals." Many amusing stories could be told of Mr.
Lincoln and his gloves. At about the time of his third
reception he had on a tight-fitting pair of white kids,
which he had with difficulty got on. He saw approach-
ing in the distance an old Illinois friend named Simpson,
whom he welcomed with a genuine Sangamon County
98 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
shake, which resulted in bursting his white-kid glove
with an audible sound. Then raising his brawny hand
up before him, looking at it with an indescribable ex-
pression, he said, while the whole procession was
checked, witnessing this scene, " Well, my old friend,
this is a general bustification. You and I were never
intended to wear these things. If they were stronger
they might do well enough to keep out the cold, but
they are a failure to shake hands with between old
friends like us. Stand aside, Captain, and I'll see you
shortly." The procession then advanced. Simpson
stood aside, and after the unwelcome pageantry was ter-
minated, he rejoined his old Illinois friend in familiar
Mr. Lincoln was always delighted to see his Western
friends, and always gave them a cordial welcome ; and
when the proprieties justified it, he met them on the old
familiar footing, entertaining them with anecdotes in
unrestrained, free-and-easy conversation. He never
spoke of himself as President, always referred to his
office as " this place ; " would often say to an old friend,
"Call me Lincoln: 'Mr. President' is entirely too
formal for us." Shortly after the first inauguration, an
old and respected friend accompanied by his wife
visited Washington, and as a matter of course paid their
respects to the President and his family, having been on
intimate social terms with them for many years. It was
proposed that at a certain time Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln
should call at the hotel where they were stopping and
HIS SIMPLICITY. 99
take them out for a ride in the Presidential carriage,
a gorgeous and grandly caparisoned coach, the like of
which the visitors had seldom seen before that time. As
close as the intimacy was, the two men had never seen
each other with gloves on in their lives, except as a
protection from the cold. Both gentlemen, realizing
the propriety of their use in the changed condition of
things, discussed the matter with their respective wives,
who decided that gloves were the proper things. Mr.
Lincoln reluctantly yielded to this decree, and placed
his in his pocket, to be used or not according to circum-
stances. On arriving at the hotel he found his friend,
who doubtless had yielded to his wife's persuasion,
gloved in the most approved style. The friend, taking
in the situation, was hardly seated in the carriage when
he began to take off the clinging kids ; and at the same
time Mr. Lincoln began to draw his on, seeing which
they both burst into a hearty laugh, when Mr. Lincoln
exclaimed, " Oh, why should the spirit of mortals be
proud?" Then he added, "I suppose it is polite to
wear these things, but it is positively uncomfortable for
me to do so. Let us put them in our pockets ; that is
the best place for them, and we shall be able to act more
like folks in our bare hands." After this the ride was
as enjoyable as any one they had ever taken in early
days in a lumber wagon over the prairies of Illinois.
An instance showing that the deserving low-born com-
manded Mr. Lincoln's respect and consideration as well
.as the high-born and distinguished, may be found in
IOO RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
what he said on one occasion to an Austrian count
during the rebellion. The Austrian minister to this
government introduced to the President a count, subject
of the Austrian government, who was desirous of obtain-
ing a position in the American army. Being introduced
by the accredited minister of Austria, he required no
further recommendation to secure the appointment ; but
fearing that his importance might not be fully appreciated
by the republican President, the count was particular
in impressing the fact upon him that he bore that title,
and that his family was ancient and highly respectable.
Mr. Lincoln listened with attention, until this unneces-
sary commendation was mentioned; then, with a merry
twinkle in his eye, he tapped the aristocratic sprig of
hereditary nobility on the shoulder in the most fatherly
way, as if the gentleman had made a confession of some
unfortunate circumstance connected with his lineage, for
which he was in no way responsible, saying, " Never
mind, you shall be treated with just as much considera-
tion for all that. I will see to it that your bearing a
title sha'n't hurt you."
MR. LINCOLN was one of the bravest men that
ever lived, and one of the gentlest. The in-
stances in his earlier career in which he put his life in
peril to prevent injury to another are very numerous.
I have often thought that his interposition in behalf of
the friendless Indian who wandered into camp during
the Black Hawk war and was about to be murdered by
the troops, was an act of chivalry unsurpassed in the
whole story of knighthood. So in the rough days of
Gentryville and New Salem, he was always on the side
of the weak and the undefended ; always daring against
the bully; always brave and tender; always invoking
peace and good-will, except where they could be had
only by dishonor. He could not endure to witness the
needless suffering even of a brute. When riding once
with a company of young ladies and gentlemen, dressed
up in his best, he sprang from his horse and released a
pig which was fast in a fence and squealing in pain,
because, as he said in his homely way, the misery of the
poor pig was more than he could bear.
Hon. I. N. Arnold tells of an incident in the early
days of Mr. Lincoln's practice at the Springfield bar.
IO2 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
He was coming home from a neighboring county seat,
with a party of lawyers, riding two by two along a country
lane. Lincoln and a comrade brought up the rear, and
when the others stopped to water their horses his comrade
came up alone. "Where is Lincoln? " was the inquiry.
"Oh," replied the friend, "when I saw him last he
had caught two young birds which the wind had blown
out of their nest, and was hunting up the nest to put
them back into it"
How instinctively Mr. Lincoln turned from the delib-
erate, though lawful and necessary, shedding of blood
during the war is well known. His Secretaries of War,
his Judge-Advocate General, and generals in the field,
were often put to their wits' end to maintain the disci-
pline of the army against this constant softness of the
President's good heart.
Upward of twenty deserters were sentenced at one
time to be shot. The warrants for their execution were
sent to Mr. Lincoln for his approval ; but he refused to
sign them. The commanding general to whose corps
the condemned men belonged was indignant. He
hurried to Washington. Mr. Lincoln had listened to
moving petitions for mercy from humane persons who,
like himself, were shocked at the idea of the cold-
blooded execution of more than a score of misguided
men. His resolution was fixed, but his rule was to
see every man who had business with him. The irate
commander, therefore, was admitted into Mr. Lincoln's
private office. With soldierly bluntness he told the
If IS TENDERNESS. 1 03
President that mercy to the few was cruelty to the
many; that Executive clemency in such a case would
be a blow at military discipline ; and that unless the
condemned men were made examples of, the army
itself would be in danger. "General," said Mr. Lincoln,
"there are too many weeping widows in the United
States now. For God's sake don't ask me to add to the
number; for, I tell you plainly, / won't do it /" He
believed that kind words were better for the poor fellows
than cold lead; and the sequel showed that he was
Death warrants : execution of unfortunate soldiers,
how he dreaded and detested them, and longed to
restore every unfortunate man under sentence to life and
honor in his country's service ! I had personally an
almost unlimited experience with him in this class of
cases, and could fill volumes with anecdotes exhibiting
this trait in the most touching light, though the names of
the persons concerned disgraced soldiers, prisoners of
war, civilian spies would hardly be recognized by the
readers of this generation.
But it was the havoc of the war, the sacrifice of patriotic
lives, the flow of human blood, the mangling of precious
limbs in the great Union host that shocked him most,
indeed, on some occasions shocked him almost beyond
his capacity to control either his judgment or his feelings.
This was especially the case when the noble victims were
of his own acquaintance, or of the narrower circle of his
familiar friends; and then he seemed for the moment
104 -RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
possessed of a sense of personal responsibility for their
individual fate, which was at once most unreasonable and
most pitiful. Of this latter class were many of the most
gallant men of Illinois and Indiana, who fell dead or
cruelly wounded in the early battles of the Southwest.
The " Black boys " were notable among the multitude
of eager youths who rushed to the field at the first call
to arms. Their mother,, the widow of a learned Pres-
byterian minister, had married Dr. Fithian, of Danville,
111. ; and the relations between Dr. Fithian and his step-
sons were of the tenderest paternal nature. His pride
in them and his devotion to them was the theme of
the country side. Mr. Lincoln knew them well. In his
frequent visits to Danville on the circuit he seldom
failed to be the guest of their mother and the excellent
Dr. Fithian. They were studious and industrious boys,
earning with their own hands at least a part of the
money required for their education. When Sumter
was fired upon they were at Wabash College, Crawfords-
ville, Ind., and immediately enlisted as privates in the
Crawfordsville Guards. Their career in the field needs
no recital here. Mr. Lincoln watched it with intense
interest. At the battle of Pea Ridge, having reached
high rank, each promotion for some special act of
gallantry, they both fell desperately wounded within
five minutes of each other, and only thirty yards apart.
Dr. Fithian hastened to them with a father's solicitude,
and nursed them back to life, through fearful vicissitudes.
They had scarcely returned to the army when the elder,
TENDERNESS. 1 05
John Charles Black, again fell, terribly mangled, at
Prairie Grove. He was hopelessly shattered ; yet he
remained in the service and at the front until the last
gun was fired, and is now among the badly wounded sur-
vivors of the war. I shall never forget the scene, when I
took to Mr. Lincoln a letter written by Dr. Fithian to
me, describing the condition of the "Black boys," and
expressing his fears that they could not live. Mr.
Lincoln read it, and broke into tears : " Here, now," he
cried, " are these dear, brave boys killed in this cursed
war ! My God, my God ! It is too bad ! They worked
hard to earn money enough to educate themselves, and
this is the end ! I loved them as if they were my own."
I took his directions about my reply to Dr. Fithian, and
left him in one of the saddest moods in which I ever saw
him, burdened with an unreasonable sense of personal
responsibility for the lives of these gallant men.
Lieut.-Colonel William McCullough, of whom a very
eminent gentleman said on a most solemn occasion,
" He was the most thoroughly courageous man I have
ever known," fell leading a hopeless charge in Missis-
sippi. He had entered the service at the age of fifty, with
one arm and one eye. He had been clerk of McLean
County Circuit Court, 111., for twenty years, and Mr.
Lincoln knew him thoroughly. His death affected the
President profoundly, and he wrote to the Colonel's
daughter, now Mrs. Frank D. Orme, the following peculiar
letter of condolence :
IO6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON,
Dec. 23, 1862.
DEAR FANNY, It is with deep regret that I learn of the
death of your kind and brave father, and especially that it is
affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such
cases. In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all, and
to the young it comes with bitterer agony because it takes
them unawares. The older have learned ever to expect it.
I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present
distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.
You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better. Is
not this so ? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be
happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will
make you some less miserable now. I have had experience
enough to know what I say, and you need only to believe it
to feel better at once. The memory of your dear father,
instead of an agony, will yet be a sad, sweet feeling in your
heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known
Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother.
Your sincere friend,
Miss FANNY MCCULLOUGH,
Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, who fell at Shiloh, was a friend
whom Lincoln held in the tenderest regard. He knew
his character as a man and his inestimable value as a
soldier quite as well as they are now known to the coun-
try. Those who have read General Grant's " Memoirs "
will understand from that great general's estimate of him
what was the loss of the federal service in the untimely
death of Wallace. Mr. Lincoln felt it bitterly and
deeply. But his was a public and a private grief united,
HIS TENDERNESS. IO;
and his lamentations were touching to those who heard
them, as I did. The following account of General
Wallace's death is taken from an eloquent memorial
address, by the Hon. Leonard Swett in the United
States Circuit Court, upon our common friend the late
Col. T. Lyle Dickey, who was the father-in-law of
" Mrs. Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, who was Judge Dickey's
eldest daughter, as the battle of Shiloh approached,
became impressed with the sense of impending danger
to her husband, then with Grant's army. This impres-
sion haunted her until she could stand it no longer ; and
in one of the most severe storms of the season, at twelve
o'clock at night, she started alone for the army where
her husband was. At Cairo she was told that no women
could be permitted to go up the Tennessee River. But
affection has a persistency which will not be denied.
Mrs. Wallace finding a party bearing a flag to the
Eleventh Infantry from the ladies of Ottawa, to be used
instead of their old one, which had been riddled and
was battle-worn, got herself substituted to carry that flag :
and thus with one expedient and another she finally
reached Shiloh, six hundred miles from home and three
hundred through a hostile country, and through the more
hostile guards of our own forces.
"She arrived on Sunday, the 6th of April, 1862, when
the great storm-centre of that battle was at its height,
and in time to receive her husband as he was borne
from the field terribly mangled by a shot in the head,
108 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
which he had received while endeavoring to stay the
retreat of our army as it was falling back to the banks o|
the river on that memorable Sunday, the first day of that
bloody battle. She arrived in time to recognize him,
and be recognized by him ; and a few days afterward)
saying, ' We shall meet again in heaven,' he died in the
arms of that devoted wife, surrounded by Judge Dickey
and his sons and the brothers of General Wallace."
These are but a few cases of death and mutilation in
the military service cited to show how completely Mr.
Lincoln shared the sufferings of our soldiers. It was
with a weight of singular personal responsibility that
some of these misfortunes and sorrows seemed to crowd
upon his sympathetic heart.
Soon after his election in 1864, when any other man
would have been carried away on the tide of triumph and
would have had little thought for the sorrows of a stranger,
he found time to write the following letter :
EXECUTIVE MANSION, Nov. 21, 1864.
DEAR MADAM, I have been shown, in the files of the
War Department, a statement of the Adjutant-General of
Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who
have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak
and fruitless must be any words of mine which should
attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so over-
whelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the
consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic
they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may
assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you
only the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the
HIS TENDERNESS. IOQ
solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a
sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
To MRS. BIXBV
Once when Mr. Lincoln had released a prisoner at the
request of his mother she, in expressing her gratitude,
said, " Good-bye, Mr. Lincoln. I shall probably never see
you again till we meet in heaven." She had the Presi-
dent's hand in hers, and he was deeply moved. He in-
stantly took her hand in both of his and, following her to
the door, said, " I am afraid with all my troubles I shall
never get to the resting place you speak of, but if I do I
am sure I shall find you. Your wish that you will meet
me there has fully paid for all I have done for you."
Perhaps none of Mr. Lincoln's ambitions were more
fully realized than the wish expressed to Joshua F. Speed :
Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who know
me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a
flower where I thought a flower would grow.
DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS.
/ "T V HAT " every man has within him his own Patmos,"
-*- Victor Hugo was not far wrong in declaring.
" Revery," says the great French thinker, "fixes its gaze
upon the shadow until there issues from it light. Some
power that is very high has ordained it thus." Mr. Lin-
coln had his Patmos, his " kinship with the shades ; "
and this is, perhaps, the strangest feature of his charac-
ter. That his intellect was mighty and of exquisite
mould, that it was of a severely logical cast, and that his
reasoning powers were employed in the main on matters
eminently practical, all men know who know anything
about the real Lincoln. The father of modern philoso-
phy tells us that " the master of superstition is the peo-
ple ; and in all superstitions wise men follow fools."
Lord Bacon, however, was not unwilling to believe that
storms might be dispersed by the ringing of bells, a
superstition that is not yet wholly dead, even in countries
most distinguished by modem enlightenment. Those
whom the great Englishman designated " masters of
superstition, fools," were the common people whose
collective wisdom Mr. Lincoln esteemed above the high-
est gifts of cultured men. That the Patmos of the plain
DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. Ill
people, as Mr. Lincoln called them, was his in a large
measure he freely acknowledged ; and this peculiarity of
his nature is shown in his strange dreams and presenti-
ments, which sometimes elated and sometimes disturbed
him in a very astonishing degree.
From early youth he seemed conscious of a high mis-
sion. Long before his admission to the bar, or his
entrance into politics, he believed that he was destined
to rise to a great height ; that from a lofty station to
which he should be called he would be able to confer
lasting benefits on his fellow-men. He believed also
that from a lofty station he should fall. It was a vision
of grandeur and of gloom which was confirmed in his
mind by the dreams of his childhood, of his youthful
days, and of his maturer years. The plain people with
whom his life was spent, and with whom he was in
cordial sympathy, believed also in the marvellous as
revealed in presentiments and dreams ; and so Mr. Lin-
coln drifted on through years of toil and exceptional
hardship, struggling with a noble spirit for honest pro-
motion, meditative, aspiring, certain of his star, but
appalled at times by its malignant aspect. Many times
prior to his election to the Presidency he was both elated
and alarmed by what seemed to him a rent in the veil
which hides from mortal view what the future holds.
He saw, or thought he saw, a vision of glory and of
blood, himself the central figure in a scene which his
fancy transformed from giddy enchantment to the most
112 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
On the day of his renomination at Baltimore, Mr.
Lincoln was engaged at the War Department in constant
telegraphic communication with General Grant, who was
then in front of Richmond. Throughout the day he
seemed wholly unconscious that anything was going on
at Baltimore in which his interests were in any way con-
cerned. At luncheon time he went to the White House,
swallowed a hasty lunch, and without entering his private
office hurried back to the War Office. On his arrival at
the War Department the first dispatch that was shown
him announced the nomination of Andrew Johnson for
" This is strange," said he, reflectively ; " I thought it
was usual to nominate the candidate for President first."
His informant was astonished. " Mr. President," said
he, " have you not heard of your own renomination ? It
was telegraphed to you at the White House two hours
Mr. Lincoln had not seen the dispatch, had made no
inquiry about it, had not even thought about it. On
reflection, he attached great importance to this singular
occurrence. It reminded him, he said, of an ominous
incident of mysterious character which occurred just
after his election in 1860. It was the double image of
himself in a looking-glass, which he saw while lying on a
lounge in his own chamber at Springfield. There was
Abraham Lincoln's face reflecting the full glow of health
and hopeful life ; and in the same mirror, at the same
moment of time, was the face of Abraham Lincoln show-
DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 113
ing a ghostly paleness. On trying the experiment at
other times, as confirmatory tests, the illusion reappeared,
and then vanished as before.
Mr. Lincoln more than once told me that he could
not explain this phenomenon ; that he had tried to
reproduce the double reflection at the Executive Man-
sion, but without success ; that it had worried him not a
little ; and that the mystery had its meaning, which was
clear enough to him. To his mind the illusion was a
sign, the life-like image betokening a safe passage
through his first term as President ; the ghostly one,
that death would overtake him before the close of the
second. Wholly unmindful of the events happening at
Baltimore, which would have engrossed the thoughts of
any other statesman in his place that day, forgetful, in
fact, of all earthly things except the tremendous events
of the war, this circumstance, on reflection, he wove
into a volume of prophecy, a sure presage of his re-elec-
tion. His mind then instantly travelled back to the
autumn of 1860 ; and the vanished wraith the ghostly
face in the mirror, mocking its healthy and hopeful
fellow told him plainly that although certain of re-elec-
tion to the exalted office he then held, he would surely
hear the fatal summons from the silent shore during his
second term. With that firm conviction, which no
philosophy could shake, Mr. Lincoln moved on through
a maze of mighty events, calmly awaiting the inevitable
hour of his fall by a murderous hand.
How, it may be asked, could he make life tolerable,
114 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
burdened as he was with that portentous horror which
though visionary, and of trifling import in our eyes, was
by his interpretation a premonition of impending doom ?
I answer in a word : His sense of duty to his country;
his belief that " the inevitable " is right ; and his innate
and irrepressible humor.
But the most startling incident in the life of Mr. Lin-
coln was a dream he had only a few days before his
assassination. To him it was a thing of deadly import,
and certainly no vision was ever fashioned more exactly
like a dread reality. Coupled with other dreams, with
the mirror-scene and with other incidents, there was some-
thing about it so amazingly real, so true to the actual
tragedy which occurred soon after, that more than mortal
strength and wisdom would have been required to let it
pass without a shudder or a pang. After worrying over
it for some days, Mr. Lincoln seemed no longer able to
keep the secret. I give it as nearly in his own words as
I can, from notes which I made immediately after its
recital. There were only two or three persons present.
The President was in a melancholy, meditative mood,
and had been silent for some time. Mrs. Lincoln, who
was present, rallied him on his solemn visage and want
of spirit. This seemed to arouse him, and without seem-
ing to notice her sally he said, in slow and measured
"It seems strange how much there is in the Bible
about dreams. There are, I think, some sixteen chap-
ters in the Old Testament and four or five in the New
DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 11$
in which dreams are mentioned ; and there are many
other passages scattered throughout the book which refer
to visions. If we believe the Bible, we must accept the
fact that in the old days God and His angels came to
men in their sleep and made themselves known in
dreams. Nowadays dreams are regarded as very foolish,
and are seldom told, except by old women and by young
men and maidens in love."
Mrs. Lincoln here remarked : " Why, you look dread-
fully solemn ; do you believe in dreams? "
" I can't say that I do," returned Mr. Lincoln ; " but I
had one the other night which has haunted me ever
since. After it occurred, the first time I opened the
Bible, strange as it may appear, it was at the twenty-
eighth chapter of Genesis, which relates the wonderful
dream Jacob had. I turned to other passages, and
seemed to encounter a dream or a vision wherever I
looked. I kept on turning the leaves of the old book,
and everywhere my eye fell upon passages recording
matters strangely in keeping with my own thoughts,
supernatural visitations, dreams, visions, etc."
He now looked so serious and disturbed that Mrs.
Lincoln exclaimed : " You frighten me ! What is the
" I am afraid," said Mr. Lincoln, observing the effect
his words had upon his wife, " that I have done wrong
to mention the subject at all ; but somehow the thing
has got possession of me, and, like Banquo's ghost, it
will not down."
Il6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
This only inflamed Mrs. Lincoln's curiosity the more,
and while bravely disclaiming any belief in dreams, she
strongly urged him to tell the dream which seemed to
have such a hold upon him, being seconded in this by
another listener. Mr. Lincoln hesitated, but at length
commenced very deliberately, his brow overcast with a
shade of melancholy.
" About ten days ago," said he, " I retired very late.
1 had been up waiting for important dispatches from the
front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell
into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream.
There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me.
Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people
were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered
downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same
pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went
from room to room ; no living person was in sight, but
the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed
along. It was light in all the rooms ; every object was
familiar to me ; but where were all the people who were
grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled
and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this?
Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mys-
terious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the
East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sick-
ening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which
rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around
it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards ;
and there was a throng of people, some gazing mourn-
DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. \\f
fully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others
weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?'
I demanded of one of the soldiers. ' The President,' was
his answer ; ' he was killed by an assassin ! ' Then came
a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me
from my dream. I slept no more that night ; and al-
though it was only a dream, I have been strangely
annoyed by it ever since."
" That is horrid ! " said Mrs. Lincoln. " I wish you
had not told it. I am glad I don't believe in dreams,
or I should be in terror from this time forth."
"Well," responded Mr. Lincoln, thoughtfully, "it is
only a dream, Mary. Let us say no more about it, and
try to forget it."
This dream was so horrible, so real, and so in keeping
with other dreams and threatening presentiments of his,
that Mr. Lincoln was profoundly disturbed by it. During
its recital he was grave, gloomy, and at times visibly pale,
but perfectly calm. He spoke slowly, with measured
accents and deep feeling. In conversations with me he
referred to it afterward, closing one with this quotation
from " Hamlet " : "To sleep ; perchance to dream ! ay,
there's the rub .' " with a strong accent on the last three
Once the President alluded to this terrible dream
with some show of playful humor. " Hill," said he,
"your apprehension of harm to me from some hidden
enemy is downright foolishness. For a long time you
have been trying to keep somebody the Lord knows
IlS RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
who from killing me. Don't you see how it will turn
out? In this dream it was not me, but some other
fellow, that was killed. It seems that this ghostly
assassin tried his hand on some one else. And this
reminds me of an old farmer in Illinois whose family
were made sick by eating greens. Some poisonous herb
had got into the mess, and members of the family were
in danger of dying. There was a half-witted boy in the
family called Jake ; and always afterward when they had
greens the old man would say, ' Now, afore we risk these
greens, let's try 'em on Jake. If he stands 'em, we 're
all right.' Just so with me. As long as this imaginary
assassin continues to exercise himself on others / can
stand it." He then became serious and said: "Well,
let it go. I think the Lord in His own good time
and way will work this out all right. God knows what
These words he spoke with a sigh, and rather in a
tone of soliloquy, as if hardly noting my presence.
Mr. Lincoln had another remarkable dream, which
was repeated so frequently during his occupancy of the
White House that he came to regard it as a welcome
visitor. It was of a pleasing and promising character,
having nothing in it of the horrible. It was always an
omen of a Union victory, and came with unerring cer-
tainty just before every military or naval engagement
where our arms were crowned with success. In this
dream he saw a ship sailing away rapidly, badly damaged,
and our victorious vessels in close pursuit. He saw,
DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 119
also, the close of a battle on land, the enemy routed,
and our forces in possession of vantage ground of
incalculable importance. Mr. Lincoln stated it as a
fact that he had this dream just before the battles of
Antietam, Gettysburg, and other signal engagements
throughout the war.
The last time Mr. Lincoln had this dream was the
night before his assassination. On the morning of that
lamentable day there was a Cabinet meeting at which
General Grant was present. During an interval of gen-
eral discussion, the President asked General Grant if he
had any news from General Sherman, who was then
confronting Johnston. The reply was in the negative,
but the general added that he was in hourly expectation
of a dispatch announcing Johnston's surrender. Mr.
Lincoln then with great impressiveness said : " We shall
hear very soon, and the news will be important." Gen-
eral Grant asked him why he thought so. " Because,"
said Mr. Lincoln, " I had a dream last night ; and ever
since this war began I have had the same dream just
before every event of great national importance. It
portends some important event that will happen very
After this Mr. Lincoln became unusually cheerful.
In the afternoon he ordered a carriage for a drive. Mrs.
Lincoln asked him if he wished any one to accompany
them. " No, Mary," said he, " I prefer that we ride by
Mrs. Lincoln said afterwards that she never saw him
I2O RECOLLECTION'S OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN'.
look happier than he did during that drive. In reply
to a remark of hers to that effect, Mr. Lincoln said :
" And well may I feel so, Mary ; for I consider that
this day the war has come to a close. Now, we must
try to be more cheerful in the future ; for between this
terrible war and the loss of our darling son we have
suffered much misery. Let us both try to be happy."
On the night of the fatal i4th of April, 1865, when
the President was assassinated, Mrs. Lincoln's first ex-
clamation was, "His dream was prophetic."
History will record no censure against Mr. Lincoln
for believing, like the first Napoleon, that he was a man
of destiny ; for such he surely was, if the term is at all
admissible in a philosophic sense. And our estimate
of his greatness must be heightened by conceding the
fact that he was a believer in certain phases of the
supernatural. Assured as he undoubtedly was by omens
which to his mind were conclusive that he would rise
to greatness and power, he was as firmly convinced by
the same tokens that he would be suddenly cut off at
the height of his career and the fulness of his fame. He
always believed that he would fall by the hand of an
assassin; and yet with that appalling doom clouding
his life, a doom fixed and irreversible, as he was
firmly convinced, his courage never for a moment
forsook him, even in the most trying emergencies. Can
greatness, courage, constancy in the pursuit of exalted
aims, be tried by a severer test? He believed with
DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 121
" Because right is right, to follow right
Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence."
Concerning presentiments and dreams Mr. Lincoln
had a philosophy of his own, which, strange as it may
appear, was in perfect harmony with his character in all
other respects. He was no dabbler in divination,
astrology, horoscopy, prophecy, ghostly lore, or witch-
eries of any sort. With Goethe, he held that " Nature
cannot but do right eternally." Dreams and presenti-
ments, in his judgment, are not of supernatural origin ;
that is, they proceed in natural order, their essence
being preternatural, but not above Nature. The mov-
ing power of dreams and visions of an extraordinary
character he ascribed, as did the Patriarchs of old, to
the Almighty Intelligence that governs the universe,
their processes conforming strictly to natural laws.
" Nature," said he, " is the workmanship of the Almighty ;
and we form but links in the general chain of intellectual
and material life."
Mr. Lincoln had this further idea. Dreams being
natural occurrences, in the strictest sense, he held that
their best interpreters are the common people ; and this
accounts in large measure for the profound respect he
always had for the collective wisdom of plain people,
" the children of Nature," he called them, touching
matters belonging to the domain of psychical mysteries.
There was some basis of truth, he believed, for whatever
obtained general credence among these " children of
Nature ; " and as he esteemed himself one of their
122 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
number, having passed the greater part of his life among
them, we can easily account for the strength of his
convictions on matters about which they and he were in
The natural bent of Mr. Lincoln's mind, aided by
early associations, inclined him to read books which
tended to strengthen his early convictions on occult
subjects. Byron's " Dream " was a favorite poem, and
I have often heard him repeat the following lines :
" Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence : Sleep hath its own world
And a wide realm of wild reality.
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off our waking toils,
They do divide our being."
He seemed strangely fascinated by the wonderful
in history, such as the fall of Geta by the hand of
Caracalla, as foretold by Severus; the ghosts of Cara-
calla's father and murdered brother threatening and up-
braiding him ; and kindred passages- It is useless
further to pursue this account of Mr. Lincoln's peculiar
views concerning these interesting mysteries. Enough
has been said to show that the more intense the light
which is poured upon what may be regarded as Mr.
Lincoln's weakest points, the greater and grander will
his character appear.
THE HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER.
NO one knew better than Mr. Lincoln that genuine
humor is " a plaster that heals many a wound ; "
and certainly no man ever had a larger stock of that
healing balm or knew better how to use it. His old
friend I. N. Arnold once remarked that Lincoln's laugh
had been his " life-preserver." Wit, with that illustrious
man, was a jewel whose mirth-moving flashes he could
no more repress than the diamond can extinguish its
own brilliancy. In no sense was he vain of his superb
ability as a wit and story-teller.
Noah Brooks says in an article written for Harper's
Monthly, three months after Mr. Lincoln's death, that
the President once said, that, as near as he could reckon,
about one sixth only of the stories credited to him were
old acquaintances, all the others were the productions
of other and better story-tellers than himself. " I
remember," said he, "a good story when I hear it; but
I never invented anything original. I am only a retail-
dealer." No man was readier than he to acknowledge
the force of Shakespeare's famous lines,
" A jest's prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it; never in the tongue
Of him that makes it."
124 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Mr. Lincoln's stories were generally told with a well-
defined purpose, to cheer the drooping spirits of a
friend ; to lighten the weight of his own melancholy,
" a pinch, as it were, of mental snuff," to clinch an
argument, to expose a fallacy, or to disarm an antag-
onist ; but most frequently he employed them simply as
" labor-saving contrivances." He believed, with the
great Ulysses of old, that there is naught " so tedious as
a twice-told tale ; " and during my long and intimate
acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln I seldom heard him
relate a story the second time. The most trifling cir-
cumstances, or even a word, was enough to remind him
of a story, the aptness of which no one could fail to see.
He cared little about high-flown words, fine phrases,
or merely ornamental diction ; and yet, for one wholly
without scholastic training, he was master of a style
which was remarkable for purity, terseness, vigor, and
force. As Antenor said of the Grecian king, " he spoke
no more than just the thing he thought ; " and that
thought he clothed in the simplest garb, often sacrificing
the elegant and poetic for the homely and prosaic in
the structure of his sentences.
In one of his messages to Congress Mr. Lincoln used
the term " sugar-coated." When the document was
placed in the hands of the public printer, Hon. John D.
Defrees, that officer was terribly shocked and offended.
Mr. Defrees was an accomplished scholar, a man of
fastidious taste, and a devoted friend of the President,
with whom he was on terms of great intimacy. It would
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 12$
never do to leave the forbidden term in the message ;
it must be expunged, otherwise it would forever re-
main a ruinous blot on the fair fame of the President.
In great distress and mortification the good Defrees
hurried away to the White House, where he told Mr.
Lincoln plainly that " sugar-coated " was not in good
"You ought to remember, Mr. President," said he,
" that a message to the Congress of the United States is
quite a different thing from a speech before a mass
meeting in Illinois ; that such messages become a part
of the history of the country, and should therefore be
written with scrupulous care and propriety. Such an
expression in a State paper is undignified, and if I were
you I would alter the structure of the whole sentence."
Mr. Lincoln laughed, and then said with a comical
show of gravity : " John, that term expresses precisely
my idea, and I am not going to change it. ' Sugar-
coated ' must stand ! The time will never come in this
country when the people will not understand exactly
what 'sugar-coated' means."
Mr. Defrees was obliged to yield, and the message was
printed without amendment.
One day at a critical stage of the war, Mr. Lincoln
sat in his office in deep meditation. Being suddenly
aroused, he said to a gentleman whose presence he had
not until that moment observed : " Do you know that I
think General is a philosopher? He has proved
himself a really great man. He has grappled with and
126 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
mastered that ancient and wise admonition, ' Know thy-
self; ' he has formed an intimate acquaintance with him-
self, knows as well for what he is fitted and unfitted as
any man living. Without doubt he is a remarkable man.
This war has not produced another like him."
"Why is it, Mr. President," asked his friend, "that
you are now so highly pleased with General ?
Has your mind not undergone a change?"
" Because," replied Mr. Lincoln, with a merry twinkle
of the eye, "greatly to my relief, and to the interests
of the country, he has resigned. And now I hope some
other dress-parade commanders will study the good
old admonition, ' Know thyself,' and follow his example."
On the 3d of February, 1865, during the so-called
Peace Conference at Hampton Roads between Mr.
Lincoln and Mr. Seward on the one side and the Messrs.
Stephens, Campbell, and Hunter on the other, Mr.
Hunter remarked that the recognition of the Confed-
erate government by President Lincoln was indispen-
sable as the first step towards peace ; and he made
an ingenious argument in support of his proposition,
citing as a precedent for the guidance of constitutional
rulers in dealing with insurgents the case of Charles I.
and his rebel Parliament. This reference to King
Charles as a model for imitation by a President of the
United States was a little unfortunate, but Mr. Lincoln
was more amused than offended by it. Turning to Mr.
Hunter he said : " On the question of history I must
refer you to Mr. Seward, who is posted in such matters.
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 12 J
I don't pretend to be ; but I have a tolerably distinct
recollection, in the case you refer to, that Charles lost
his head, and I have no head to spare."
Mr. Hunter, during the same conference, in speaking
of emancipation, remarked that the slaves had always
been accustomed to work on compulsion, under an
overseer ; and he apprehended they would, if suddenly
set free, precipitate themselves and the whole social
fabric of the South into irretrievable ruin. In that case
neither the whites nor the blacks would work. They
would all starve together. To this Mr. Lincoln replied :
"Mr. Hunter, you ought to know a great deal more
about this matter than I do, for you have always lived
under the slave system. But the way you state the case
reminds me of an Illinois farmer who was not over-fond
of work, but was an adept in shirking. To this end
he conceived a brilliant scheme of hog culture. Having
a good farm, he bought a large herd of swine. He
planted an immense field in potatoes, with the view of
turning the whole herd into it late in the fall, supposing
they would be able to provide for themselves during
the winter. One day his scheme was discussed between
himself and a neighbor, who asked him how the thing
would work when the ground was frozen one or two
feet deep. He had not thought of that contingency,
and seemed perplexed over it. At length he answered :
' Well, it will be a leetle hard on their snouts, I reckon ;
but them shoats will have to root, hog, or die.' And
so," concluded Mr. Lincoln, " in the dire contingency
128 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
you name, whites and black alike will have to look out
for themselves; and I have an abiding faith that they
will go about it in a fashion that will undeceive you in a
very agreeable way."
During the same conference, in response to certain
remarks by the Confederate commissioners requiring
explicit contradiction, Mr. Lincoln animadverted with
some severity upon the conduct of the rebel leaders,
and closed with the statement that they had plainly
forfeited all right to immunity from punishment for the
highest crime known to the law. Being positive and
unequivocal in stating his views concerning individual
treason, his words seemed to fall upon the commissioners
with ominous import. There was a pause, during which
Mr. Hunter regarded the speaker with a steady, search-
ing look. At length, carefully measuring his own words,
Mr. Hunter said : " Then, Mr. President, if we under-
stand you correctly, you think that we of the Confed-
eracy have committed treason ; that we are traitors to
your government ; that we have forfeited our rights, and
are proper subjects for the hangman. Is not that about
what your words imply?"
" Yes," said Mr. Lincoln, " you have stated the propo-
sition better than I did. That is about the size of it ! "
There was another pause, and a painful one, after
which Mr. Hunter, with a pleasant smile, replied : " Well,
Mr. Lincoln, we have about concluded that we shall
not be hanged as long as you are President if we
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 12$
There is here as high a compliment as could have been
paid to Mr. Lincoln, a trust in his magnanimity and
goodness of heart. From the gentleness of his char-
acter, such were the sentiments he inspired even among
his enemies, that he was incapable of inflicting -pain,
punishment, or injury if it could possibly be avoided;
that he was always resolutely merciful and forbearing.
On his return to Washington after this conference,
Mr. Lincoln recounted the pleasure he had had in
meeting Alexander H. Stephens, who was an invalid all
his life ; and in commenting upon his attenuated appear-
ance as he looked after emerging from layers of over-
coats and comforters, Mr. Lincoln said, "Was there ever
such a nubbin after so much shucking? "
At one time when very lively scenes were being
enacted in West Virginia, a Union general allowed him-
self and his command to be drawn into a dangerous
position, from which it was feared he would be unable to
extricate himself without the loss of his whole command.
In speaking of this fiasco, Mr. Lincoln said : " General
reminds me of a man out West who was engaged
in what they call heading a barrel. He worked diligently
for a time driving down the hoops ; but when the job
seemed completed, the head would fall in, and he would
have to do the work all over again. Suddenly, after a
deal of annoyance, a bright idea struck him. He put
his boy, a chunk of a lad, into the barrel to hold up the
head while he pounded down the hoops. This worked
like a charm. The job was completed before he once
I3O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
thought about how he was to get the little fellow out
again. Now," said Mr. Lincoln, "that is a fair sample
of the way some people do business. They can succeed
better in getting themselves and others corked up than
in getting uncorked."
During the year 1861 it was difficult to preserve
peace and good order in the city of Washington.
Riots and disturbances were occurring daily, and some
of them were of a serious and sometimes dangerous
nature. The authorities were in constant apprehension,
owing to the disloyal sentiment prevailing, that a riot
might occur of such magnitude as to endanger the safety
of the capital ; and this necessitated the utmost vigilance
on their part to preserve order.
On one occasion, when the fears of the loyal element
of the city were excited to fever-heat, a free fight near
the old National Theatre occurred about eleven o'clock
one night. An officer in passing the place observed
what was going on ; and seeing the great number of
persons engaged, he felt it to be his duty to command
the peace. The imperative tone of his voice stopped
the fighting for a moment ; but the leader, a great bully,
roughly pushed back the officer, and told him to go
away, or he would whip him. The officer again advanced
and said, " I arrest you," attempting to place his hand
on the man's shoulder, when the bully struck a fearful
blow at the officer's face. This was parried, and instantly
followed by a blow from the fist of the officer, striking
the fellow under the chin and knocking him senseless.
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 131
Blood issued from his mouth, nose, and ears. It was
believed that the man's neck was broken. A surgeon
was called, who pronounced the case a critical one, and
the wounded man was hurried away on a litter to the
hospital. There the physicians said there was concus-
sion of the brain, and that the man would die. All
medical skill that the officer could procure was employed
in the hope of saving the life of the man. His con-
science smote him for having, as he believed, taken the
life of a fellow-creature, and he was inconsolable.
Being on terms of intimacy with the President, about
two o'clock that night the officer went to the White
House, woke up Mr. Lincoln, and requested him to
come into his office, where he told him his story. Mr.
Lincoln listened with great interest until the narrative
was completed, and then asked a few questions ; after
which he remarked : " I am sorry you had to kill the
man ; but these are times of war, and a great many men
deserve killing. This one, according to your story, is
one of them ; so give yourself no uneasiness about the
matter. I will stand by you."
" That is not why I came to you. I knew I did my
duty, and had no fears of your disapproval of what I
did," replied the officer; and then he added: "Why I
came to you was, I felt great grief over the unfortunate
affair, and I wanted to talk to you about it."
Mr. Lincoln then said, with a smile, placing his hand
on the officer's shoulder : " You go home now and get
some sleep ; but let me give you this piece of advice,
132 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
hereafter, when you have occasion to strike a man, don't
hit him with your fist ; strike him with a club, a crowbar,
or with something that won't kill him."
The officer then went home, but not to sleep. The
occurrence had a great effect upon him, and was a real
source of discomfort to his mind during the fourteen
months the unfortunate invalid lived, and it left a sincere
regret impressed upon him ever after ; but the concili-
atory and kindly view prompted by Mr. Lincoln's tender
heart, and his fidelity to friendship on that occasion, is
to this day cherished in the officer's memory with a
feeling of consecration.
About the first time Mr. Lincoln contemplated leaving
Washington, he was to attend some gathering of the
people in Baltimore, Philadelphia, or New York. A
committee waited upon him and urged his attendance
on the occasion, saying that they were sure Mr. Garrett,
the president of the only road then going east out of
Washington, would take great pleasure in furnishing a
special train of cars for him. "Well," said the President,
" I have no doubt of that I know Mr. Garrett well,
and like him very much ; but if I were to believe (which
I don't) everything some people say of him about his
' secesh ' principles, he might say to you as was said by
the superintendent of a railroad to a son of one of my
predecessors in office. Some two years after the death
of President Harrison, the son of the incumbent of this
office, contemplating an excursion for his father some-
where or other, went to order a special train of cars.
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 133
At that time politics were very bitter between the Whigs
and the Democrats, and the railroad superintendent
happened to be an uncompromising Whig. The son
made known his demand, which was bluntly refused by
the railroad official, saying that his road was not running
special trains for the accommodation of Presidents just
then. ' What ! ' said the young man, ' did you not fur-
nish a special train for the funeral of General Harrison ? '
' Yes,' said the superintendent, very calmly ; ' and if you
will only bring your father here in that shape you shall
have the best train on the road.' But, gentlemen," con-
tinued. Mr. Lincoln, "I have no doubts of Mr. Garrett's
loyalty for the government or his respect for me
personally, and I will take pleasure in going."
General James B. Fry, the Provost-Marshal General
during Mr. Lincoln's Administration, was designated by
the Secretary of War as a special escort to accompany
Mr. Lincoln to the field of Gettysburg upon the occasion
of the anniversary of that battle. The general, on arriv-
ing at the White House and finding the President late
in his preparations for the trip, remarked to him that it
was late, and there was little time to lose in getting to
the train. "Well," said Mr. Lincoln, "I feel about that
.is the convict did in Illinois, when he was going to the
gallows. Passing along the road in custody of the sheriff,
and seeing the people who were eager for the execution
crowding and jostling one another past him, he at last
called out, ' Boys ! you need n't be in such a hurry to get
ahead, for there won't be any fun till I get there.' "
134 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
General Fry also tells of a conversation between Mr.
Lincoln and Mr. Stanton, in relation to the selection
of brigadier-generals. Mr. Lincoln was heard to say :
"Well, Mr. Secretary, I concur in pretty much all you
say. The only point I make is, that there has got to
be something done which will be unquestionably in the
interest of the Dutch ; and to that end I want Schim-
melpfennig appointed." The secretary replied : " Mr.
President, perhaps this Schimrnel what 's-his-name
is not as highly recommended as some other German
officer." " No matter about that," said Mr. Lincoln ;
"his name will make up for any difference there may
be, and I '11 take the risk of his coming out all right."
Then, with a laugh, he repeated, dwelling upon each
syllable of the name and accenting the last one,
" Schim-mel-pfen-Twjf must be appointed."
Mr. Welles, in speaking of the complication into which
Spain attempted to draw the government of the United
States in regard to reclaiming her possessions in San
Domingo, says that the pressure was great on both sides,
and the question a grave and delicate one as to what po-
sition we should take and what course pursue. On the
one side Spain, whose favor we wished to conciliate, and
on the other the appeal of the negroes against Spanish
oppression. Mr. Sevvard detailed the embarrassments
attending the negotiations to Mr. Lincoln, whose coun-
tenance indicated that his mind was relieved before
Mr. Seward had concluded. He remarked that the
dilemma of the Secretary of State reminded him of an
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 135
interview between two negroes in Tennessee ; one was a
preacher, who, with the crude and strange notions of
his ignorant race, was endeavoring to admonish and
enlighten his brother African of the importance of
religion and the danger of the future. " * Dar are,' said
Josh the preacher, 'two roads befo' you, Joe; be careful
which ob dem you take. Narrow am de way dat leads
straight to destruction ; but broad am de way dat leads
right to damnation.' Joe opened his eyes with affright,
and under the inspired eloquence of the awful danger
before him, exclaimed, 'Josh, take which road you
please ; I shall go troo de woods.' I am not willing,"
said the President, " to assume any new troubles or re-
sponsibilities at this time, and shall therefore avoid going
to the one place with Spain or with the negro to the
other, but shall take to the woods. We will maintain an
honest and strict neutrality."
When Attorney-General Bates resigned, late in 1864,
after the resignation of Postmaster-General Blair in that
year, the Cabinet was left without a Southern member.
A few days before the meeting of the Supreme Court,
which then met in December, Mr. Lincoln sent for
Titian F. Coffey, and said : " My Cabinet has shrunk up
North, and I must find a Southern man. I suppose if
the twelve Apostles were to be chosen nowadays, the
shrieks of locality would have to be heeded."
Mr. Coffey acted as Attorney-General during the time
intervening between the resignation of Mr. Bates and
the appointment of Mr. Speed. He tells about a dele-
136 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
gation that called on Mr. Lincoln to ask the appointment
of a gentleman as commissioner to the Sandwich Islands.
They presented their case as earnestly as possible ; and
besides their candidate's fitness for the place they urged
that he was in bad health, and that a residence in that
balmy climate would be of great benefit to him. The
President closed the interview with this discouraging
remark : " Gentlemen, I am sorry to say that there are
eight other applicants for that place, and they are all
sicker than your man."
In 1858 Mr. Lincoln was engaged at Bloomington, in
a case of very great importance. The attorney on the
other side was a young lawyer of fine abilities, who has
since become a judge. He was a sensible and sensitive
young man, and the loss of a case always gave him great
pain, to avoid which he invariably manifested an
unusual zeal, and made great preparation for the trial of
his cases. This case of which I speak lasted till late at
night, when it was submitted to the jury. In anticipa-
tion of a favorable verdict, the young attorney spent a
sleepless night in anxiety, and early next morning learned
to his great chagrin that he had lost the case. Mr. Lin-
coln met him at the court house some time after the jury
had come in, and asked him what had become of his
case. With lugubrious countenance and in a melan-
choly tone the young man replied, " It 's gone to hell."
"Oh, well," said Mr. Lincoln, "then you will see it
Mr. Lincoln had shown great wisdom in appreciating
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 137
the importance of holding such Democrats as Mr. Doug-
las close to the Administration, on the issue of a united
country or a dissolution of the Union. He said : " They
are just where we Whigs were in 1848, about the Mexi-
can war. We had to take the Locofoco preamble when
Taylor wanted help, or else vote against helping Taylor ;
and the Democrats must- vote to hold the Union now,
without bothering whether we or the Southern men got
things where they are ; and we must make it easy for
them to do this, for we cannot live through the case
without them." He further said : " Some of our friends
are opposed to an accommodation because the South
began the trouble and is entirely responsible for the con-
sequences, be they what they may. This reminds me of
a story told out in Illinois where I lived. There was a
vicious bull in a pasture, and a neighbor passing through
the field, the animal took after him. The man ran to a
tree, and got there in time to save himself; and being
able to run round the tree faster than the bull, he man-
aged to seize him by the tail. His bullship seeing him-
self at a disadvantage, pawed the earth and scattered
gravel for awhile, then broke into a full run, bellowing at
every jump, while the man, holding on to the tail, asked
the question, ' Darn you, who commenced this fuss ? '
Now, our plain duty is to settle the fuss we have before
us, without reference to who commenced it."
Mr. Lincoln told another anecdote in connection with
the probable adjustment of the difficulties. Said he :
" Once on a time, a number of very pious gentlemen, all
138 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
strict members of the church, were appointed to take in
charge and superintend the erection of a bridge over a
very dangerous and turbulent river. They found great
difficulty in securing the services of an engineer compe-
tent for the work. Finally, Brother Jones said that Mr.
Meyers had built several bridges, and he had no doubt
he could build this one. Mr. Meyers was sent for. The
committee asked, 'Can you build this bridge?' 'Yes,'
was the answer, ' I can build a bridge to the infernal
regions, if necessary.' The committee was shocked, and
Brother Jones felt called upon to say something in de-
fence of his friend, and commenced by saying : ' Gentle-
men, I know my friend Meyers so well, and he is so
honest a man and so good an architect, that if he states
positively that he can build a bridge to hell, why, I
believe he can do it ; but I feel bound to say that I have
my doubts about the abutment on the infernal side.'
So," said Mr. Lincoln, " when the politicians told me
that the Northern and Southern wings of the Democracy
could be harmonized, why, I believed them of course ;
but I had always my doubts about the abutment on the
Anthony J. Bleeker tells his experience in applying for
a position under Mr. Lincoln. He was introduced by
Mr. Preston King, and made his application verbally,
handing the President his vouchers. The President
requested him to read them, which he commenced to
do. Before Mr. Bleeker had got half through with the
documents, the President cried out, " Oh, stop ! you are
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 139
like the man who killed the dog." Not feeling particu-
larly flattered by the comparison, Mr. Bleeker inquired,
"In what respect?" Mr. Lincoln replied, "He had a
vicious animal which he determined to dispatch, and
accordingly knocked out his brains with a club. He
continued striking the dog until a friend stayed his hand,
exclaiming, * You need n't strike him any more, the dog
is dead ; you killed him at the first blow.' ' Oh, yes,'
said he, ' I know that ; but I believe in punishment after
death.' So, I see, you do." Mr. Bleeker acknowledged
that it was possible to do too much sometimes, and he
in his turn told an anecdote of a good priest who con-
verted an Indian from heathenism to Christianity; the
only difficulty he had with him was to get him to pray
for his enemies. " The Indian had been taught by his
father to overcome and destroy them. ' That,' said the
priest, ' may be the Indian's creed, but it is not the doc-
trine of Christianity or the Bible. Saint Paul distinctly
says, " If thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst,
give him drink." ' The Indian shook his head at this
and seemed dejected, but when the priest added, * " For
in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head," '
the poor convert was overcome with emotion, fell on his
knees, and with outstretched hands and uplifted eyes
invoked all sorts of blessings on his adversary's head,
supplicating for pleasant hunting-grounds, a large supply
of squaws, lots of papooses, and all other Indian com-
forts, till the good priest interrupted him (as you did
me) , exclaiming, ' Stop, my son ! You have discharged
140 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
your Christian duty, and have done more than enough.'
Oh, no, father," says the Indian, ' let me pray ! I want
to burn him down to the stump ! ' " Mr. Bleeker got
" Mr. Lincoln," wrote one who knew him very well,*
"was a good judge of men, and quickly learned the
peculiar traits of character in those he had to deal with.
He pointed out a marked trait in one of the Northern
governors who was earnest, able, and untiring in keeping
up the war spirit of his State, but was at times overbear-
ing and exacting in his intercourse with the general
government. Upon one occasion he complained and
protested more bitterly than usual, and warned those in
authority that the execution of their orders in his State
would be beset by difficulties and dangers. The tone of
his dispatches gave rise to an apprehension that he
might not co-operate fully in the enterprise in hand.
The Secretary of War, therefore, laid the dispatches
before the President for advice or instructions. They
did not disturb Mr. Lincoln in the least. In fact, they
rather amused him. After reading all the papers, he
said in a cheerful and reassuring tone : ' Never mind,
those dispatches don't mean anything. Just go right
ahead. The governor is like the boy I saw once at the
launching of a ship. When everything was ready, they
picked out a boy and sent him under the ship to knock
away the trigger and let her go. At the critical moment
everything depended on the boy. He had to do the job
* General Fry, in the New York " Tribune."
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 141
well by a direct, vigorous blow, and then lie flat and
keep still while the ship slid over him. The boy did
everything right ; but he yelled as if he were being mur-
dered, from the time he got under the keel until he got
out. I thought the skin was all scraped off his back ;
but he was n't hurt at all. The master of the yard told
me that this boy was always chosen for that job, that he
did his work well, that he never had been hurt, but that
he always squealed in that way. That 's just the way
with Governor . Make up your minds that he is
not hurt, and that he is doing his work right, and pay
no attention to his squealing. He only wants to make
you understand how hard his task is, and that he is on
hand performing it.' "
Time proved that the President's estimation of the
governor was correct.
Upon another occasion a Governor went to the office
of the Adjutant-General bristling with complaints. The
Adjutant, finding it impossible to satisfy his demands,
accompanied him to the Secretary of War's office, whence,
after a stormy interview with Secretary Stanton he went
alone to see the President. The Adjutant-General ex-
pected important orders from the President or a sum-
mons to the White House for explanation. After some
hours the Governor returned and said with a pleasant
smile that he was going home by the next train and
merely dropped in to say good-bye, making no allusion to
the business upon which he came nor his interview with
the President. As soon as the Adjutant-General could
142 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
see Mr. Lincoln he told him he was very anxious to learn
how he disposed of Governor , as he had started to
see him in a towering rage, and said he supposed it was
necessary to make large concessions to him as he seemed
after leaving the President to be entirely satisfied. " O,
no," replied Mr. Lincoln, " I did not concede anything.
You know how that Illinois farmer managed the big log
that lay in the middle of his field? To the inquiries of
his neighbors one Sunday he announced that he had got
rid of the big log. ' Got rid of it ! ' said they. ' How
did you do it ? It was too big to haul out, too knotty to
split, and too wet and soggy to burn. What did you
do?' 'Well, now, boys,' replied the farmer, 'if you
won't divulge the secret, I '11 tell you how I got rid of it.
I plowed around it.' Now," said Lincoln, "don't tell
anybody, but that is the way I got rid of Governor ,
I plowed around him, but it took me three mortal hours
to do it, and I was afraid every minute he would see
what I was at."
Mr. Lincoln enjoyed telling of the youth who emi-
grated to the West and wrote back East to his father who
was something of a politician : " Dear Dad, I have
settled at and like it first rate. Do come out here,
for almighty mean men get office here."
Thurlow Weed tells of breakfasting with Lincoln and
Judge Davis while in Springfield in December prior to
Mr. Lincoln's first inauguration. Judge Davis remarked
Mr. Weed's fondness for sausage and said, " You seem
fond of our Chicago sausages." To which Mr. Weed
HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 143
responded that he was, and thought the article might be
relied on where pork was cheaper than dogs. " That,"
said Mr. Lincoln, " reminds me of what occurred down in
Joliet, where a popular grocer supplied all the villagers
with sausages. One Saturday evening, when his grocery
was filled with customers, for whom he and his boys
were busily engaged in weighing sausages, a neighbor
with whom he had had a violent quarrel that day came
into the grocery, made his way up to the counter, hold-
ing two enormous dead cats by the tail, which he delib-
erately threw onto the counter saying, " This makes seven
to-day. I '11 call round Monday and get my money
Mr. Lincoln read men and women quickly, and was so
keen a judge of their peculiarities that none escaped his
Once a very attractive woman consumed a good deal
of Mr. Lincoln's time. He finally dismissed her with a
card directed to Secretary Stanton on which he had
written : " This woman, dear Stanton, is a little smarter
than she looks to be."
THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. LINCOLN'S LOVE OF SONG.
IN the autumn of 1862 I chanced to be associated with
Mr. Lincoln in a transaction which, though innocent
and commonplace in itself, was blown by rumor and
surmise into a revolting and deplorable scandal. A con-
jectural lie, although mean, misshapen, and very small
at its birth, grew at length into a tempest of defamation,
whose last echoes were not heard until its noble victim
had yielded his life to a form of assassination only a
trifle more deadly.
Mr. Lincoln was painted as the prime mover in a
scene of fiendish levity more atrocious than the world
had ever witnessed since human nature was shamed and
degraded by the capers of Nero and Commodus. I
refer to what is known as the Antietam song-singing;
and I propose to show that the popular construction
put upon that incident was wholly destitute of truth.
Mr. Lincoln persistently declined to read the harsh
comments of the newspaper press and the fierce mouth-
ings of platform orators ; and under his advice I as
persistently refused to make any public statement con-
cerning that ill-judged affair. He believed with Sir
Walter Scott, that, if a cause of action is good, it needs
THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 145
no vindication from the actor's motives ; if bad, it can
derive none. When I suggested to him that the slander
ought to be refuted, that a word from him would
silence his defamers, Mr. Lincoln replied with great
earnestness : " No, Hill ; there has already been too
much said about this falsehood. Let the thing alone.
If I have not established character enough to give the
lie to this charge, I can only say that I am mistaken in
my own estimate of myself. In politics, every man
must skin his own skunk. These fellows are welcome
to the hide of this one. Its body has already given
forth its unsavory odor."
The newspapers and the stump-speakers went on
" stuffing the ears of men with false reports " until the
fall of 1864, when I showed to Mr. Lincoln a letter, of
which the following is a copy. It is a fair sample of
hundreds of letters received by me about that time,
the Antietam incident being then discussed with in-
creased virulence and new accessions of false coloring.
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 10, 1864.
WARD H. LAMON :
Dear Sir, Enclosed is an extract from the New York
" World " of Sept. 9, 1864 :
"ONE OF MR. LINCOLN'S JOKES. The second verse of
our campaign song published on this page was probably
suggested by an incident which occurred on the battle-field of
Antietam a few days after the fight. While the President
was driving over the field in an ambulance, accompanied by
Marshal Lamon, General McClellan, and another officer,
heavy details of men were engaged in the task of burying
146 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
the dead. The ambulance had just reached the neighbor-
hood of the old stone bridge, where the dead were piled
highest, when Mr. Lincoln, suddenly slapping Marshal Lamon
on the knee, exclaimed : ' Come, Lamon, give us that song
about Picayune Butler ; McClellan has never heard it.'
' Not now, if you please,' said General McClellan, with a
shudder ; ' I would prefer to hear it some other place and
This story has been repeated in the New York " World "
almost daily for the last three months. Until now it would
have been useless to demand its authority. By this article
it limits the inquiry to three persons as its authority,
Marshal Lamon, another officer, and General McClellan.
That it is a damaging story, if believed, cannot be disputed.
That it is believed by some, or that they pretend to believe
it, is evident by the accompanying verse from the doggerel,
in which allusion is made to it :
" Abe may crack his jolly jokes
O'er bloody fields of stricken battle,
While yet the ebbing life-tide smokes
From men that die like butchered cattle ;
He, ere yet the guns grow cold,
To pimps and pets may crack his stories,' etc.
I wish to ask you, sir, in behalf of others as well as
myself, whether any such occurrence took place ; or if it did
not take place, please to state who that "other officer " was,
if there was any such, in the ambulance in which the Presi-
dent " was driving over the field [ of Antietam ] whilst
details of men were engaged in the task of burying the
dead." You will confer a great favor by an immediate reply.
Most respectfully your obedient servant,
A. J. PERKINS.
Along with the above I submitted to Mr. Lincoln
my own draft of what I conceived to be a suitable
THE ANT1ETAM EPISODE. 147
reply. The brutal directness and falsity of the " World's "
charge, and the still more brutal and insulting character
of the doggerel with which it was garnished, impelled
me to season my reply to Mr. Perkins's letter with a
large infusion of " vinegar and gall." After carefully
reading both letters, Mr. Lincoln shook his head. " No,
Lamon," said he, "I would not publish this reply; it
is too belligerent in tone for so grave a matter. There is
a heap of ' cussedness ' mixed up with your usual amia-
bility, and you are at times too fond of a fight. If I
were you, I would simply state the facts as they were.
I would give the statement as you have here, without the
pepper and salt. Let me try my hand at it." He then
took up a pen and wrote the following. It was to be
copied by me and forwarded to Mr. Perkins as my refuta-
tion of the slander.
"The President has known me intimately for nearly twenty
years, and has often heard me sing little ditties. The battle
of Antietam was fought on the I7th day of September, 1862.
On the first day of October, just two weeks after the battle,
the President, with some others including myself, started from
Washington to visit the Army, reaching Harper's Ferry at
noon of that day. In a short while General McClellan came
from his headquarters near the battle-ground, joined the
President, and with him reviewed the troops at Bolivar
Heights that afternoon, and at night returned to his head-
quarters, leaving the President at Harper's Ferry. On the
morning of the second the President, with General Sumner,
reviewed the troops respectively at Loudon Heights and
Maryland Heights, and at about noon started to General
McClellan's headquarters, reaching there only in time to see
148 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
very little before night. On the morning of the third all
started on a review of the third corps and the cavalry, in
the vicinity of the Antietam battle-ground. After getting
through with General Burnside's corps, at the suggestion of
General McClellan he and the President left their horses to
be led, and went into an ambulance or ambulances to go to
General Fitz John Porter's corps, which was two or three
miles distant. I am not sure whether the President and
General McClellan were in the same ambulance, or in differ-
ent ones ; but myself and some others were in the same with
the President. On the way, and on no part of the battle-
ground, and on what suggestions I do not remember, the
President asked me to sing the little sad song that follows,
which he had often heard me sing, and had always seemed
to like very much. I sang it. After it was over, some
one of the party (I do not think it was the President) asked
me to sing something else ; and I sang two or three little
comic things, of which 'Picayune Butler' was one. Porter's
corps was reached and reviewed; then the battle-ground was
passed over, and the most noted parts examined ; then, in
succession, the cavalry and Franklin's corps were reviewed,
and the President and party returned to General McClellan's
headquarters at the end of a very hard, hot, and dusty day's
work. Next day, the 4th, the President and General McClel-
lan visited such of the wounded as still remained in the
vicinity, including the now lamented General Richardson;
then proceeded to and examined the South-Mountain battle-
ground, at which point they parted, General McClellan
returning to his camp, and the President returning to Wash-
ington, seeing, on the way, General Hartsoff, who lay
wounded at Frederick Town.
"This is the whole story of the singing and its surround-
ings. Neither General McClellan nor any one else made
any objections to the singing ; the place was not on the battle-
field ; the time was sixteen days after the battle ; no dead
THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 149
body was seen during the whole time the President was ab-
sent from Washington, nor even a grave that had not been
rained on since it was made."
This perfectly truthful statement was written by Mr.
Lincoln about the i2th of September, 1864, less than
two years after the occurrence of the events therein
described. It was done slowly, and with great delibera-
tion and care. The statement, however, was never
made public. Mr. Lincoln said to me : " You know,
Hill, that this is the truth and the whole truth about that
affair ; but I dislike to appear as an apologist for an act
of my own which I know was right. Keep this paper,
and we will see about it." The momentous and all-en-
grossing events of the war caused the Antietam episode
to be forgotten by the President for a time ; the state-
ment was not given to the press, but has remained in
my possession until this day.
Mark how simple the explanation is ! Mr. Lincoln
did not ask me to sing "Picayune Butler." No song
was sung on the battle-field. The singing occurred on
the way from Burnside's corps to Fitz John Porter's
corps, some distance from the battle-ground, and six-
teen days after the battle. Moreover, Mr. Lincoln had
said to me, " Lamon, sing one of your little sad songs,"
and thereby hangs a tale which is well worth the tell-
ing, as it illustrates a striking phase of Mr. Lincoln's
character which has never been fully revealed.
I knew well what Mr. Lincoln meant by " the little
sad songs." The sentiment that prompted him to call
150 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
for such a song had its history, and one of deep and
touching interest to me. One " little sad song " a
simple ballad entitled "Twenty Years Ago" was,
above all others, his favorite. He had no special fond-
ness for operatic music; he loved simple ballads and
ditties, such as the common people sing, whether of the
comic or pathetic kind ; but no one in the list touched
his great heart as did the song of "Twenty Years Ago."
Many a time, in the old days of our familiar friendship
on the Illinois circuit, and often at the White House
when he and I were alone, have I seen him in tears
while I was rendering, in my poor way, that homely
melody. The late Judge David Davis, the Hon. Leonard
Swett, and Judge Corydon Beckwith were equally partial
to the same ballad. Often have I seen those great men
overcome by the peculiar charm they seemed to find in
the sentiment and melody of that simple song. The
following verses seemed to affect Mr. Lincoln more
deeply than any of the others :
" I 've wandered to the village, Tom ; I 've sat beneath the tree
Upon the schoolhouse play-ground, that sheltered you and me:
But none were left to greet me, Tom, and few were left to know
Who played with us upon the green, some twenty years ago.
" Near by the spring, upon the elm you know I cut your name,
Your sweetheart's just beneath it, Tom; and you did mine the
Some heartless wretch has peeled the bark, 't was dying sure
Just as she died whose name you cut, some twenty years ago.
" My lids have long been dry, Tom, but tears came to my eyes ;
I thought of her I loved so well, those early broken ties:
I visited the old churchyard, and took some flowers to strew
Upon the graves of these we loved, some twenty years ago."
THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 151
This is the song Mr. Lincoln called for, and the one I
sang to him in the vicinity of Antietam. He was at the
time weary and sad. As I well knew it would, the song
only deepened his sadness. I then did what I had done
many times before : I startled him from his melancholy
by striking up a comic air, singing also a snatch from
"Picayune Butler," which broke the spell of " the little
sad song," and restored somewhat his accustomed easy
humor. It was not the first time I had pushed hilarity
simulated though it was to an extreme for his sake.
I had often recalled him from a pit of melancholy into
which he was prone to descend, by a jest, a comic song,
or a provoking sally of a startling kind ; and Mr. Lincoln
always thanked me afterward for my well-timed rudeness
" of kind intent."
This reminds me of one or two little rhythmic shots I
often fired at him in his melancholy moods, and it was a
kind of nonsense that he always keenly relished. One
was a parody on " Life on the Ocean Wave."
Mr. Lincoln would always laugh immoderately when I
sang this jingling nonsense to him. It reminded him of
the rude and often witty ballads that had amused him in
his boyhood days. He was fond of negro melodies, and
"The Blue-Tailed Fly" was a favorite. He often called
for that buzzing ballad when we were alone, and he wanted
to throw off the weight of public and private cares.
A comic song in the theatre always restored Mr.
Lincoln's cheerful good-humor. But while he had a
great fondness for witty and mirth-provoking ballads,
152 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
our grand old patriotic airs and songs of the tender and
sentimental kind afforded him the deepest pleasure.
"Ben Bolt" was one of his favorite ballads; so was
"The Sword of Bunker Hill ; " and he was always deeply
moved by "The Lament of the Irish Emigrant," espe-
cially the following touching lines :
" I 'm very lonely now, Mary,
For the poor make no new friends ;
But, oh, they love the better still
The few our Father sends 1
And you were all I had, Mary,
My blessing and my pride;
There 's nothing left to care for now,
Since my poor Mary died."
Many examples can be given illustrative of this phase
of Mr. Lincoln's character, the blending of the mirth-
ful and the melancholy in his singular love of music and
verse. When he was seventeen years old, his sister was
married. The festivities of the occasion were made
memorable by a song entitled " Adam and Eve's Wed-
ding Song," which many believed was composed by Mr.
Lincoln himself. The conceits embodied in the verses
were old before Mr. Lincoln was born ; but there is some
intrinsic as well as extrinsic evidence to show that the
doggerel itself was his.
ADAM AND EVE'S WEDDING SONG.
When Adam was created, he dwelt in Eden's shade,
As Moses has recorded ; and soon an Eve was made.
Ten thousand times ten thousand
Of creatures swarmed around
Before a bride was formed,
And yet no mate was found.
THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 153
The Lord then was not willing
The man should be alone,
But caused a sleep upon him,
And took from him a bone.
And closed the flesh in that place of;
And then he took the same,
And of it made a woman,
And brought her to the man.
Then Adam he rejoiced
To see his loving bride,
A part of his own body,
The product of his side.
This woman was not taken
From Adam's feet, we see ;
So he must not abuse her,
The meaning seems to be.
This woman was not taken
From Adam's head, we know;
To show she must not rule him,
'T is evidently so.
This woman she was taken
From under Adam's arm ;
So she must be protected
From injuries and harm.
But the lines which Mr. Lincoln liked best of all, and
which were repeated by him more often than any other,
" Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? "
Mr. Carpenter in his " Six Months at the White House "
gives them in full as follows :
"Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ?
Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave.
154 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
" The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
Be scattered around, and together be laid ;
And the young and the old, and the low and the high,
Shall moulder to dust, and together shall lie.
" The infant a mother attended and loved ;
The mother that infant's affection who proved ;
The husband that mother and infant who blest,
Each, all, are away to their dwellings of rest.
"The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye,
Shone beauty and pleasure, her triumphs are by;
And the memory of those who loved her and praised,
Are alike from the minds of the living erased.
" The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne,
The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn,
The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave,
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.
" The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap,
The herdsman who climbed with his goats up the steep,
The beggar who wandered in search of his bread,
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.
"The saint who enjoyed the communion of Heaven,
The sinner who dared to remain untorgiven,
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.
" So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed,
That withers away to let others succeed ;
So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.
" For we are the same our fathers have been ;
We see the same sights our fathers have seen ;
We drink the same stream, we view the same sun,
And run the same course our fathers have run.
" The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think ;
From the death we are shrinking our fathers would shrink;
To the life we are clinging they also would cling,
But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing.
THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 155
" They loved, but the story we cannot unfold ;
They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold ;
They grieved, but no wail from their slumber will come ;
They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.
"They died, ay, they died : we things that are now,
That walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
And make in their dwellings a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.
"Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
Are mingled together in sunshine and rain ;
And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other like surge upon surge.
" 'T is the wink of an eye, 't is the draught of a breath,
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud,
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? "
These curiously sad lines were chosen by Mr. Lincoln
when he was a very young man to commemorate a grief
which lay with continual heaviness on his heart, but to
which he could not otherwise allude, the death of
Ann Rutledge, in whose grave Mr. Lincoln said that his
heart lay buried. He muttered these verses as he
rambled through the woods ; he was heard to murmur
them as he slipped into the village at nightfall; they
came unbidden to his lips in all places, and very often
in his later life. In the year of his nomination, he
repeated them to some friends. When he had finished
them, he said " they sounded to him as much like true
poetry as anything that he had ever heard." The
poem is now his ; it is imperishably associated with his
memory and interwoven with the history of his greatest
sorrow. Mr. Lincoln's adoption of it has saved it from
156 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN".
oblivion, and translated it from the " poet's corner " of
the country newspaper to a place in the story of his
But enough has been given to show that Mr. Lincoln
was as incapable of insulting the dead, in the manner
credited to him in the Antietam episode, as he was of
committing mean and unmanly outrages upon the living.
If hypercritical and self-appointed judges are still dis-
posed to award blame for anything that happened on
that occasion, let their censure fall upon me, and not
upon the memory of the illustrious dead, who was guilt-
less of wrong and without the shadow of blame for the
part he bore in that misjudged affair. My own part in
the incident, in the light of the facts here given, needs
HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN.
NO sketch of Mr. Lincoln's character can be called
complete which does not present him as he
appeared at his own fireside, showing his love for his
own children, his tenderness toward the little ones
generally, and how in important emergencies he was
influenced by them. A great writer has said that it were
" better to be driven out from among men than to be
disliked by children." So Mr. Lincoln firmly believed ;
and whenever it chanced that he gave offence to a
child unwittingly he never rested until he had won
back its favor and affection. He beheld in the face
of a little child a record of innocence and love, of
truth and trust ; and in the society of children he was
Owing, perhaps, to his homely countenance and un-
gainly figure, strange children generally repelled his first
advances ; but I never saw him fail to win the affection
of a child when its guileless friendship became a matter
of interest to him. He could persuade any child from
the arms of its mother, nurse, or play-fellow, there being
a peculiar fascination in his voice and manner which
the little one could not resist. As a student of child
158 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
nature and a lover of its artless innocence, he had no
patience with people who practise upon the credulity of
children ; and it was a rule of his life never to mislead a
child, even in the most trifling matter, or if in his power
to prevent it to be misled or deceived by others. On
making the acquaintance of a child he at once became
its friend, and never afterward forgot its face or the
circumstances under which the acquaintance was formed ;
for his little friends always made some impression on his
mind and feelings that was certain to be lasting.
A striking instance of this character deserves especial
mention. Shortly after his first election to the Presi-
dency he received a pleasant letter from a little girl
living in a small town in the State of New York. The
child told him that she had seen his picture, and it was
her opinion, as she expressed it in her artless way, that
he " would be a better looking man if he would let his
beard grow." Mr. Lincoln passed that New York town
on his way to Washington, and his first thought on
reaching the place was about his little correspondent.
In his brief speech to the people he made a pleasing
reference to the child and her charming note. "This
little lady," said he, "saw from the first that great
improvement might be made in my personal appearance.
You all see that I am not a very handsome man ; and to
be honest with you, neither I nor any of my friends ever
boasted very much about my personal beauty." He
then passed his hand over his face and continued :
" But I intend to follow that little girl's advice, and if
HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 159
she is present I would like to speak to her." The child
came forward timidly, and was warmly greeted by the
President-elect. He took her in his arms and kissed
her affectionately, expressing the hope that he might
have the pleasure of seeing his little friend again
Shortly after this, Mr. Lincoln, for the first time in his
life, allowed his beard to grow all over his face, with the
exception of the upper lip; and this fashion he con-
tinued as long as he lived. In speaking of the incident
which led him to wear a full beard, he afterward re-
marked, reflectively, " How small a thing will sometimes
change the whole aspect of our lives ! "
That Mr. Lincoln realized that an improvement was
necessary in his personal appearance is evidenced by
many amusing stories told by him. The one he espe-
cially enjoyed telling was, how once, when " riding the
circuit," he was accosted in the cars by a stranger, who
said, " Excuse me, sir, but I have an article in my pos-
session which belongs to you." "How is that?" Mr.
Lincoln asked, much astonished. The stranger took a
knife from his pocket, saying, "This knife was placed
in my hands some years ago with the injunction that
I was to keep it until I found a man uglier than myself.
I have carried it from that time to this. Allow me
now to say, sir, that I think you are fairly entitled to
Mr. Carpenter, the artist who painted the picture of
" The Proclamation of Emancipation," tells in his book
160 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
of an incident which occurred the day following the
adjournment of the Baltimore Convention : " Various
political organizations called to pay their respects to the
President. While the Philadelphia delegation was being
presented, the chairman of that body, in introducing one
of the members, said : ' Mr. President, this is Mr. S. of
the second district of our State, a most active and
earnest friend of yours and the cause. He has, among
other things, been good enough to paint, and present to
our league rooms, a most beautiful portrait of yourself.'
Mr. Lincoln took the gentleman's hand in his, and
shaking it cordially said, with a merry voice, 'I pre-
sume, sir, in painting your beautiful portrait, you took
your idea of me from my principles and not from
my person.' "
Before leaving the old town of Springfield, Mr.
Lincoln was often seen, on sunny afternoons, striking
out on foot to a neighboring wood, attended by his little
sons. There he would romp with them as a companion,
and enter with great delight into all their childish sports.
This joyous companionship with his children suffered
no abatement when he became a resident of the White
House and took upon himself the perplexing cares of his
great office. To find relief from those cares he would
call his boys to some quiet part of the house, throw
himself at full length upon the floor, and abandon
himself to their fun and frolic as merrily as if he had
been of their own age. The two children who were his
play-fellows in these romping scenes the first year of
HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. ifa
his residence at the Executive Mansion were Willie and
Thomas, the latter of whom he always called " Tad ; "
and these children were the youngest of his family.
In February, 1862, this fond father was visited by a
sorrowful bereavement. The Executive Mansion was
turned into a house of mourning. Death had chosen a
shining mark, and the beloved Willie, the apple of his
father's eye, the brightest and most promising of his
children, was taken away. The dreadful stroke wellnigh
broke the President's heart, and certainly an affliction
more crushing never fell to the lot of man. In the
lonely grave of the little one lay buried Mr. Lincoln's
fondest hopes, and, strong as he was in the matter of
self-control, he gave way to an overmastering grief,
which became at length a serious menace to his health.
Never was there witnessed in an American household a
scene of distress more touching than that in which the
President and Mrs. Lincoln mingled their tears over the
coffin that inclosed the lifeless form of their beloved
child. A deep and settled despondency took possession
of Mr. Lincoln; and when it is remembered that this
calamity for such it surely was befell him at a
critical period of the war, just when the resources
of his mighty intellect were most in demand, it will be
understood how his affliction became a matter of the
gravest concern to the whole country, and especially to
those who stood in close personal and official relations
The measures taken by his friends to break the force
1 62 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
of his great grief, and to restore him to something like
his old-time cheerfulness, seemed for a while unavailing.
The nearest approach to success in this humane endeavor
was made, I believe, by the Rev. Dr. Vinton, of Trinity
Church, New York, who visited the White House not
long after the death of Willie. The doctor's effort led
to a very remarkable scene, one that shows how terrible
is a great man's grief. Mr. Lincoln had a high respect
for Dr. Vinton. He knew him to be an able man, and
believed him to be conscientious and sincere. The
good doctor, profoundly impressed with the importance
of his mission, determined that in administering conso-
lation to the stricken President it would be necessary to
use great freedom of speech. Mr. Lincoln was over-
burdened with the weight of his public cares, weak in
body, and sick in mind ; and his thoughts seemed to
linger constantly about the grave of his lost darling. Ill
health and depression made him apparently listless, and
this the worthy doctor mistook for a sign of rebellion
against the just decree of Providence. He began by
exhorting the President to remember his duty to the
common Father who "giveth and taketh away," and to
whom we owe cheerful obedience and thanks for worldly
afflictions as well as for temporal benefits. He chided
Mr. Lincoln for giving way to excessive grief, declaring
without reserve that the indulgence of such grief, though
natural, was sinful ; that greater fortitude was demanded ;
that his duties to the living were imperative ; and that,
as the chosen leader of the people in a national crisis,
HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 163
he was unfitting himself for the discharge of duties and
responsibilities which could not be evaded. Mr. Lincoln
listened patiently and respectfully for a time to this
strong and pointed exhortation. He was evidently much
affected by it, but as the doctor proceeded he became
lost in his own reflections. From this revery he was
aroused by words which had a magical effect.
" To mourn excessively for the departed as lost,"
continued Dr. Vinton, " is foreign to our religion. It
belongs not to Christianity, but to heathenism. Your
son is alive in Paradise."
When these last words were uttered, Mr. Lincoln, as
if suddenly awakened from a dream, exclaimed, " Alive !
alive ! Surely you mock me ! " These magic words had
startled him, and his countenance showed that he was
Without heeding the President's emotion, the doctor
continued, in a tone of deep solemnity, " Seek not your
son among the dead, for he is not there. God is not
the God of the dead, but of the living. Did not the
ancient patriarch mourn for his son as dead? 'Joseph
is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin
also.' The fact that Benjamin was taken away made
him the instrument, eventually, in saving the whole
family." Applying this Scriptural test, the doctor told
Mr. Lincoln that his little son had been called by the
All- Wise and Merciful Father to His upper kingdom ;
that, like Joseph, the departed boy might be the means
of saving the President's household ; and that it must be
1 64 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
considered as a part of the Lord's plan for the ultimate
happiness of the family.
Mr. Lincoln was deeply moved by this consolatory
exhortation. The respected divine had touched a re-
sponsive chord. His strong words, spoken with such
evident sincerity and in a manner so earnest and impres-
sive, brought strength as well as comfort to the illustrious
mourner; and there is no doubt that this remarkable
interview had a good effect in helping to recall to Mr.
Lincoln a more healthful state of feeling, and in restoring
his accustomed self-control. Willie had inherited the
amiable disposition and a large share of the talent of his
father. He was a child of great promise, and his death
was sincerely mourned by all who knew him.
Mr. Lincoln's fondness for his children knew no
bounds. It wellnigh broke his heart to use his paternal
authority in correcting their occasional displays of
temper or insubordination ; but when occasion required
the sacrifice, he showed great firmness in teaching them
the strictest obedience. I remember a very amusing
instance of this sort of contest between his indulgent
fondness and his sense of what was due to his guiding
authority as a father.
At the time to which I refer, Tad seemed to his fond
father the most lovable object on earth. That fondness
had been intensified by the death of Willie just men-
tioned. In one of the vacant rooms of the White House
Tad had fitted up, with the aid of the servants, a minia-
ture theatre. The little fellow had rare skill and good
HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 165
taste in such matters, and after long and patient effort
the work was completed. There were the stage, the
orchestra, the parquet, the curtains, and all the parapher-
nalia pertaining to what he called " a real theatre," and
Tad was in a delirium of childish joy. About this time,
just after the review of Burnside's division of the army
of the Potomac, a certain photographer came to the
Executive Mansion to make some stereoscopic studies
of the President's office for Mr. Carpenter, who had
been much about the house. Mr. Carpenter and the
photographer appeared at the same time. The artists
told Mr. Lincoln that they must have a dark closet in
which to develop their pictures. There was such a closet
attached to the room which Tad had appropriated for
his theatre, and it could not be reached without passing
through the room.
With Mr. Lincoln's permission the artists took pos-
session of the "theatre," and they had taken several
pictures before Tad discovered the trespass upon his
premises. When he took in the situation there was an
uproar. Their occupancy of his " theatre," without his
consent, was an offence that stirred his wrath into an
instant blaze. The little fellow declared indignantly
that he would not submit to any such impudence. He
locked the door and carried off the key. The artists
hunted him up, and coaxed, remonstrated, and begged,
but all in vain. The young theatre manager, in a flame
of passion, blamed Carpenter with the whole outrage.
He declared that they should neither use his room nor
1 66 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
go into it to get their instruments and chemicals. " No
one," said he, "has any business in my room, unless
invited by me, and I never invited you." Here was a
pretty state of things. Tad was master of the situation.
Finally, Mr. Lincoln was appealed to. Tad was
called, and Mr. Lincoln said to him, " Go, now, and
unlock the door." The offended boy went off to his
mother's room, muttering a positive refusal to obey his
father's command. On hearing of the child's disobedi-
ence, Mr. Lincoln soon had the key, and " the theatre "
was again invaded by the artists. Soon after this, Mr.
Lincoln said to Carpenter, half apologetically : " Tad is
a peculiar child. He was violently excited when I
went to him for the key. I said to him, ' Tad, do you
know that you are making your father very unhappy?
You are causing a deal of trouble.' He burst into tears,
and gave up the key. I had not the heart to say much
to him in the way of reproof, for the little man certainly
thought his rights had been shamefully disregarded."
The distress which this unlucky affair brought upon his
little pet caused Mr. Lincoln more concern than any-
thing else connected with it.
During the first year of the war, owing to the great
press of business, it was at times difficult to get at the
President. Some four or five distinguished gentlemen
from Kentucky, who had come to visit him as commis-
sioners or agents from that State, had been endeavoring,
for a number of days, without success, to see him. Mr.
Lincoln having learned the object of their intended visit to
HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN.
him through some source or other, wanted to avoid the
interview if possible, and had given them no opportunity
for presenting themselves. One day after waiting in the
lobby for several hours, they were about to give up the
effort in despair, and in no amiable terms expressed
their disappointment as they turned to the head of the
stairs, saying something about " seeing old Abe." Tad
caught at these words, and asked them if they wanted
to see "old Abe," laughing at the same time. "Yes,"
they replied. "Wait a minute," said Tad, and he
rushed into his father's office and said, " Papa, may I
introduce some friends to you ? " His father, always
indulgent and ready to make him happy, kindly said,
" Yes, my son, I will see your friends." Tad went to
the Kentuckians again, and asked a very dignified look-
ing gentleman of the party what his name was. He was
told his name. He then said, "Come, gentlemen,"
and they followed him. Leading them up to Mr.
Lincoln, Tad, with much dignity, said, " Papa, let me
introduce to you Judge , of Kentucky ; " and
quickly added, "Now, Judge, you introduce the other
gentlemen." The introductions were gone through with,
and they turned out to be the gentlemen Mr. Lincoln
had been avoiding for a week. Mr. Lincoln reached
for the boy, took him on his lap, kissed him, and told
him it was all right, and that he had introduced his friend
like a little gentleman as he was. Tad was eleven years
old at this time.
Mr. Lincoln was pleased with Tad's diplomacy, and
1 68 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
often laughed at the incident as he told others of it.
One day while caressing the boy, he asked him why
he called those gentlemen " his friends." " Well," said
Tad, "I had seen them so often, and they looked so
good and sorry, and said they were from Kentucky,
that I thought they must be our friends." " That is
right, my son," said Mr. Lincoln; "I would have the
whole human race your friends and mine, if it were
THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH.
AMONG the many historic scenes in which President
Lincoln was an actor there is not one, perhaps,
where a single incident gave rise to speculations so
groundless and guesses so wide of the truth as his justly
celebrated Gettysburg speech.* Since his death there
has been an enormous expenditure, not to say a very
great waste, of literary talent on that extraordinary
* Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on
this Continent a new nation, conceived, in liberty, and dedicated
to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a civil war, testing whether that nation,
or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We
are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to
dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those
who gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot conse-
crate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living
and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our
poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long
remember, what we say here ; but it can never forget what they did
here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to
the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so
nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
great task remaining before us ; that from these honored dead we
take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last
full measure of devotion ; that we here highly resolve that these
dead shall not have died in vain ; that this nation, under God, shall
have a new birth of freedom ; and that government of the people,
by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
I/O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
address, as there has been on almost everything else he
did, or was supposed to have done, from his boyhood
until the moment of his assassination. That reporters,
critics, chroniclers, eulogists, flatterers, and biographers
have not only failed to give a true account of that
famous speech, but that they have subjected Mr. Lincoln's
memory to hurtful misrepresentation, it is the purpose
of this chapter to show.
It was my good fortune to have known Mr. Lincoln
long and well, so long and so intimately that as the
shadows lengthen and the years recede I am more and
more impressed by the rugged grandeur and nobility of
his character, his strength of intellect, and his singular
purity of heart. Surely I am the last man on earth to
say or do aught in derogation of his matchless worth,
or to tarnish the fair fame of him who was, during eigh-
teen of the most eventful years of my life, a constant,
considerate, and never-failing friend.
The world has long since conceded that Abraham
Lincoln was great in all the elements that go to make up
human greatness. He had a stamp of originality entirely
his own. With his unique individuality and his com-
manding intellect at once strong, sagacious, and pro-
foundly acute and critical were associated a mental
integrity and a moral purpose as firm as granite, a
thorough knowledge of himself, and a modesty that
scorned not only self-laudation but eulogy by others for
fame or achievements not his own. An act accomplished
by him, either in his character of a citizen or as a public
THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. I? I
servant, he regarded more as a duty discharged than as
an achievement of which to be proud. He was chari-
table to a fault; and yet no man ever discriminated
more narrowly in forming a judgment concerning the
character, the acts, and the motives of other men, or
had a keener appreciation of merit or demerit in others.
With his characteristic honesty and simplicity we may
well suppose, that, were he alive to-day, he would feel
under little obligation to the swarm of fulsome eulogists
who have made up a large part of the current chronicles
of his life and public conduct by ascribing to him
ornamental virtues which he never possessed, and
motives, purposes, and achievements which he would
promptly disown if he could now speak for himself.
Discriminating observers and students of history have
not failed to note the fact that the ceremony of Mr.
Lincoln's apotheosis was not only planned but executed by
men who were unfriendly to him while he lived, and that
the deification took place with showy magnificence some
time after the great man's lips were sealed in death.
Men who had exhausted the resources of their skill and
ingenuity in venomous detraction of the living Lincoln,
especially during the last years of his life, were the first,
when the assassin's bullet had closed the career of the
great-hearted statesman, to undertake the self-imposed
task of guarding his memory, not as a human being
endowed with a mighty intellect and extraordinary
virtues, but as a god; In fact, the tragic death of Mr.
Lincoln brought a more fearful panic to his former
1/2 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
traducers than to his friends. The latter's legacy was
deep sorrow and mourning ; the former were left to the
humiliating necessity of a change of base to place them-
selves en rapport with the millions who mourned the loss
of their greatest patriot and statesman.
If there was one form of flattery more offensive to the
noble and manly pride of Mr. Lincoln than all others,
it was that in which credit was given him for a meritori-
ous deed done by some other man, or which ascribed
to him some sentimental or saintly virtue that he knew
he did not possess. In the same spirit he rejected all
commendations or flattering compliments touching any-
thing which he had written or spoken, when, in his own
judgment, there was nothing especially remarkable in
the speech or the composition referred to. Although
superior, I readily concede, to any other man I have
ever known, Mr. Lincoln was yet thoroughly human;
and with his exact knowledge of his own character,
its weakness and its strength, he once said to me,
speaking of what historians and biographers might say
of him, " Speak of me as I am ; nothing extenuate, nor
set down aught in malice." He had a clear perception
of the value of that history which is truthful; and he
believed that hosannas sung to the memory of the
greatest of men, as if they were demi-gods, are hurtful
to their fame.
A day or two before the dedication of the National
Cemetery at Gettysburg, Mr. Lincoln told me that he
would be expected to make a speech on the occasion;
THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 173
that he was extremely busy, and had no time for prepara-
tion ; and that he greatly feared he would not be able to
acquit himself with credit, much less to fill the measure
of public expectation. From his hat (the usual recep-
tacle for his private notes and memoranda) he drew a
sheet of foolscap, one side of which was closely written
with what he informed me was a memorandum of his
intended address. This he read to me, first remarking
that it was not at all satisfactory to him. It proved to
be in substance, if not in exact words, what was after-
wards printed as his famous Gettysburg speech.
After its delivery on the day of commemoration, he
expressed deep regret that he had not prepared it with
greater care. He said to me on the stand, immediately
after concluding the speech : " Lamon, that speech won't
scour! It is a flat failure, and the people are dis-
appointed." (The word " scour " he often used in ex-
pressing his positive conviction that a thing lacked merit,
or would not stand the test of close criticism or the
wear of time.) He seemed deeply concerned about
what the people might think of his address ; more deeply,
in fact, than I had ever seen him on any public occasion.
His frank and regretful condemnation of his effort, and
more especially his manner of expressing that regret,
struck me as somewhat remarkable ; and my own im-
pression was deepened by the fact that the orator of
the day, Mr. Everett, and Secretary Seward both coin-
cided with Mr. Lincoln in his unfavorable view of its
RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
The occasion was solemn, impressive, and grandly
historic. The people, it is true, stood apparently spell-
bound ; and the vast throng was hushed and awed into
profound silence while Mr. Lincoln delivered his brief
speech. But it seemed to him that this silence and
attention to his words arose more from the solemnity of
the ceremonies and the awful scenes which gave rise to
them, than from anything he had said. He believed
that the speech was a failure. He thought so at the
time, and he never referred to it afterwards, in conversa-
tion with me, without some expression of unqualified
regret that he had not made the speech better in every
On the platform from which Mr. Lincoln delivered
his address, and only a moment after it was concluded,
Mr. Seward turned to Mr. Everett and asked him what
he thought of the President's speech. Mr. Everett
replied, " It is not what I expected from him. I am
disappointed." Then in his turn Mr. Everett asked,
" What do you think of it, Mr. Seward? " The response
was, "He has made a failure, and I am sorry for it.
His speech is not equal to him." Mr. Seward then
turned to me and asked, "Mr. Marshal, what do you
think of it?" I answered, "I am sorry to say that it
does not impress me as one of his great speeches."
In the face of these facts it has been repeatedly
published that this speech was received by the audience
with loud demonstrations of approval ; that " amid the
tears, sobs, and cheers it produced in the excited throng,
THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 175
the orator of the day, Mr. Everett, turned to Mr. Lincoln,
grasped his hand and exclaimed, 'I congratulate you
on your success ! ' adding in a transport of heated
enthusiasm, 'Ah, Mr. President, how gladly would I
give my hundred pages to be the author of your twenty
lines ! '" Nothing of the kind occurred. It is a slander
on Mr. Everett, an injustice to Mr. Lincoln, and a falsi-
fication of history. Mr. Everett could not have used the
words attributed to him, in the face of his own con-
demnation of the speech uttered a moment before, with-
out subjecting himself to the charge of being a toady and
a hypocrite ; and he was neither the one nor the other.
As a matter of fact, the silence during the delivery of
the speech, and the lack of hearty demonstrations of
approval immediately after its close, were taken by Mr.
Lincoln as certain proof that it was not well received.
In that opinion we all shared. If any person then pres-
ent saw, or thought he saw, the marvellous beauties of
that wonderful speech, as intelligent men in all lands
now see and acknowledge them, his superabundant cau-
tion closed his lips and stayed his pen. Mr. Lincoln
said to me after our return to Washington, " I tell you,
Hill, that speech fell on the audience like a wet blanket.
I am distressed about it. I ought to have prepared it
with more care." Such continued to be his opinion of
that most wonderful of all his platform addresses up to
the time of his death.
I state it as a fact, and without fear of contradiction,
that this famous Gettysburg speech was not regarded by
1 76 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
the audience to whom it was addressed, or by the press
and people of the United States, as a production of
extraordinary merit, nor was it commented on as such
until after the death of its author. Those who look
thoughtfully into the history of the matter must own
that Mr. Lincoln was, on that occasion, " wiser than he
knew." He was wiser than his audience, wiser than the
great scholars and orators who were associated with him
in the events of that solemn day. He had unconsciously
risen to a height above the level of even the " cultured
thought " of that period. 6
The marvellous perfection, the intrinsic excellence of
the Gettysburg speech as a masterpiece of English com-
position, seem to have escaped the scrutiny of even the
most scholarly critics of that day, on this side of the
Atlantic. That discovery was made, it must be regret-
fully owned, by distinguished writers on the other side.
The London "Spectator," the "Saturday Review," the
" Edinburgh Review," and some other European jour-
nals were the first to discover, or at least to proclaim,
the classical merits of the Gettysburg speech. It was
then that we began to realize that it was indeed a mas-
terpiece ; and it dawned upon many minds that we had
entertained an angel unawares, who had left us unappre-
ciated. In no country and in no age of the world has
the death of any man caused an outpouring of sorrow so
universal. Every nation of the earth felt and expressed
its sense of the loss to progressive civilization and popu-
lar government. In his life and death, thoughtful men
THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 177
in all lands found an inspiring theme. England's great-
est thinker, John Stuart Mill, pronounced Abraham Lin-
coln to be "the greatest citizen, who has afforded a
noble example of the qualities befitting the first magis-
trate of a free people." The London "Times" declared
that the news of his death would be received throughout
Europe "with sorrow as sincere and profound as it
awoke in the United States," and that " Englishmen had
learned to respect a man who showed the best charac-
teristics of their race." The London "Spectator" spoke
of him as "certainly the best, if not the ablest man
ruling over any country in the civilized world."
For using in his Gettysburg speech the celebrated
phrase, " the government of the people, by the people,
and for the people," Mr. Lincoln has been subjected to
the most brutal criticism as well as to the most ground-
less flattery. Some have been base enough to insinuate
against that great and sincere man that he was guilty
of the crime of wilful plagiarism ; others have ascribed
to him the honor of originating the phrase entire. There
is injustice to him in either view of the case. I per-
sonally know that Mr. Lincoln made no pretence of origi-
nality in the matter ; nor was he, on the other hand,
conscious of having appropriated the thought, or even
the exact words, of any other man. If he is subject to
the charge of plagiarism, so is the great Webster, who
used substantially the same phrase in his celebrated
reply to Hayne. Both men may have acquired the
peculiar form of expression (the thought itself being as
1/8 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN".
old as the republican idea of government) by the process
known as unconscious appropriation. Certain it is that
neither Lincoln nor Webster originated the phrase. Let
us see how the case stands.
In an address before the New England Antislavery
Convention in Boston, May 29, 1850, Theodore Parker
defined Democracy as " a government of all the people,
by all the people, for all the people, of course," which
language is identical with that employed by Mr. Lincoln
in his Gettysburg speech. Substantially the same phrase
was used by Judge Joel Parker in the Massachusetts
Constitutional Convention in 1853. A distinguished
diplomat has acquainted me with the singular fact that
almost the identical phrase employed by Mr. Lincoln
was used in another language by a person whose existence
even was not probably known to Mr. Webster, the
Parkers, or to Mr. Lincoln. On the thirty-first page of a
work entitled " Geschichte der Schweizerischen Re-
generation von 1830 bis 1848, von P. Feddersen,"
appears an account of a public meeting held at Olten,
Switzerland, in May, 1830. On that occasion a speaker
named Schinz used the following language, as translated
by my friend just referred to : " All the governments of
Switzerland [referring to the cantons] must acknowledge
that they are simply from all the people, by all the people*
and for all the people"
These extracts are enough to show that no American
statesman or writer can lay claim to the origin or author-
ship of the phrase in question. No friend of Mr. Lin-
THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 179
coin will pretend that it is the coinage of his fertile
brain; nor will any fair-minded man censure him for
using it as he did in his Gettysburg speech. As a
phrase of singular compactness and force, it was em-
ployed by him, legitimately and properly, as a fitting
conclusion to an address which the judgment of both
hemispheres has declared will live as a model of classic
oratory while free government shall continue to be
known and revered among men.
" The world will little note,
nor long remember, what we
say here ; but it can never
forget what they did here."
" The speech will live when
the memory of the battle will
be lost or only remembered
because of the speech."
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE.
DURING the long series of defeats and disasters
which culminated in the battles of Fredericksburg
and of Chancellorsville, there arose in certain circles of
the army and of the National Legislature a feeling of
distrust and dissatisfaction, that reached its climax in an
intrigue to displace Mr. Lincoln, if not from his position
at least from the exercise of his prerogatives, by the
appointment of a dictator. Such a measure would have
been scarcely less revolutionary than many others which
were openly avowed and advocated.
In this cabal were naturally included all those self-con-
stituted advisers whose counsels had not been adopted
in the conduct of the war; all those malcontents and
grumblers who, conscious of their incapacity to become
makers of pots and pitchers, are always so eager to
exhibit their skill and ingenuity as menders of them. In
this coalition of non-combatant guardian angels of the
country and civilian warriors were to be found patriots
of every shade and of every degree.
First, the political patriot, who recognized in a bril-
liant succession of Federal victories the only probable
prospect of preserving the ascendency of his party and
promoting his own personal fortunes.
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. l8l
Second, the commercial patriot, whose dominant pas-
sion was a love of self; to whom the spoliation of the
South and the swindling of his own government afforded
the most fruitful expedient for feathering his nest.
Third, the religious patriot, whose love of country was
subordinate to his hatred of slavery and of slaveholders ;
who* having recanted his dictum that the Constitution of
the United States was a "covenant with death and an
agreement with hell," was now one of the most vindic-
tive and unscrupulous advocates of a war of extermination.
As is frequently the case where one class of persons is
severely exercised over the iniquities of another, to a
sentiment of philanthropy had succeeded the most vio-
lent animosity and intolerance, until sympathy for the
slave degenerated into the most envenomed hostility
toward his owner.
Among the most aggressive assailants of the President
were thus comprised all those elements in his party,
with whom the logic of the war might be summed up in
the comprehensive formula, " Power, plunder, and ex-
tended rule." The evolution of events and his consis-
tent policy, as foreshadowed and indicated on the close
of hostilities, have clearly demonstrated that with such
minds Mr. Lincoln could have little sympathy or fellow-
ship. Conscientiously observant of his solemn oath to
maintain the Constitution, he could not be persuaded to
evade the obligations of his high trust by lending his
authority to the accomplishment of their revolutionary
and nefarious designs. Hinc illce lachrymce ; hence, dis-
1 82 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
appointed at the failure of their endeavor to shape his
policy in obedience to the suggestions of their own
ignoble designs, their open revolt.
No member of the cabal was better advised of its
progress or of the parties concerned in it than Mr. Lin-
coln himself. He often talked with me on the subject.
He did not fear it ; he feared nothing except to commit
an involuntary wrong or mistake of judgment in the
administration of his high and responsible trust. He
would willingly have resigned office and retired to the
unobtrusive life and simple duties of a private citizen, if
by so doing he could have restored the integrity of the
Union, or in anywise have promoted the success of the
Union cause. In this connection he would often say to
me : " In God's name ! if any one can do better in my
place than I have done, or am endeavoring to do, let
him try his hand at it, and no one will be better con-
tented than myself."
One time I went to Mr. Lincoln's office at the White
House and found the door locked. I went through a pri-
vate room and through a side entrance into the office,
where I found the President lying on a sofa, evidently
greatly disturbed and much excited, manifestly displeased
with the outlook. Jumping up from his reclining position
he advanced, saying : " You know better than any man
living that from my boyhood up my ambition was to be
President. I am President of one part of this divided
country at least ; but look at me ! I wish I had never
been born ! It is a white elephant on my hands, and hard
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 183
to manage. With a fire in my front and rear ; having to
contend with the jealousies of the military commanders,
and not receiving that cordial co-operation and support
from Congress which could reasonably be expected ; with
an active and formidable enemy in the field threatening
the very life-blood of the government, my position is
anything but a bed of roses."
I remarked to him : " It strikes me that you are
somewhat in the position of the great Richelieu, of whom
it was said that he was the first man in Europe but the
second only in his own country."
" Oh, no ! very far from it," he replied. " Richelieu
never had a fire in his front and rear at the same time,
but a united constituency, which it has never been my
good fortune to have." Then brightening up, his whole
nature seemed all at once to change. I could see a
merry twinkle in his eye as he said : " If I can only keep
my end of the animal pointed in the right direction, I
will yet get him through this infernal jungle and get my
end of him and his tail placed in their proper relative posi-
tions. I have never faltered in my faith of being ulti-
mately able to suppress this rebellion and of reuniting
this divided country ; but this improvised vigilant com-
mittee to watch my movements and keep me straight,
appointed by Congress and called the 'committee on
the conduct of the war,' is a marplot, and its greatest
purpose seems to be to hamper my action and obstruct
the military operations."
Earnestly desirous of conciliating and harmonizing
1 84 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
every element, with a view to the accomplishment
of the one the dearest aspiration of his heart, a
restoration of the Union, Mr. Lincoln had yielded until
further concessions would have implied ductility or
imbecility, until every sentiment of dignity and of self-
respect would have uttered an indignant protest. He
then well knew that he must assert himself, or be an
unimportant factor in the body-politic in the struggle for
the life and preservation of the nation; and rising at
length to the full height of his matchless self-reliance
and independence, he exclaimed : " This state of things
shall continue no longer. I will show them at the other
end of the Avenue whether I am President or not ! "
From this moment he never again hesitated or
wavered as to his course. From this moment he was
recognized as the Executive Chief and Constitutional
Commander of the Armies and Navy of the United
States. His opponents and would-be masters were now,
for the most part, silenced ; but they hated him all the
A short time before the fall of Vicksburg, great dis-
satisfaction became rife at General Grant's tardiness in
moving on the enemy's works. There was a pretty
general feeling in favor of relieving Grant from his com-
mand, and appointing some one who would make short
work of that formidable stronghold of the enemy and
relieve the people from their state of anxiety. Mr.
Lincoln had great faith in General Grant. He was
being constantly importuned and beset by the leading
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 185
politicians to turn Grant out of the command. One day
about this time he said to me, "I fear I have made
Senator Wade, of Ohio, my enemy for life." " How?"
I asked. " Wade was here just now urging me to dis-
miss Grant, and in response to something he said I
remarked, ' Senator, that reminds me of a story.' ' Yes,
yes ! ' Wade petulantly replied, it is with you, sir, all
story, story ! You are the father of every military blunder
that has been made during the war. You are on your
road to hell, sir, with this government, by your obstinacy ;
and you are not a mile off this minute.' I good-naturedly
said to him : ' Senator, that is just about the distance
from here to the Capitol, is it not?' He was very
angry, and grabbed up his hat and cane and went
Lincoln then continued to say: "To show to what
extent this sentiment prevails, even Washburne, who has
always claimed Grant as his by right of discovery, has
deserted him, and demands his removal; and I really
believe I am the only friend Grant has left. Grant
advises me [Mr. Lincoln had never seen General Grant
up to that time] that he will take Vicksburg by the
Fourth of July, and I believe he will do it ; and he shall
have the chance."
Had it not been for the stoic firmness of Mr. Lincoln
in standing by Grant, which resulted in the speedy
capture of Vicksburg, it is hard to predict what would
have been the consequences. If nothing worse, certain
it is that President Lincoln would have been deposed,
1 86 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
and a dictator would have been placed in his stead as
chief executive until peace could be restored to the
nation by separation or otherwise. Mr. Lincoln thus
expressed himself shortly before his death : " If I had
done as my Washington friends, who fight battles with
their tongues at a safe distance from the enemy, would
have had me do, Grant, who proved himself so great a
captain, would never have been heard of again."
That Mr. Lincoln sought to interfere as little as
possible with the military affairs after General Grant took
charge of the army will be shown by the following
WASHINGTON, April 30, 1864.
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GRANT, Not expecting to see
you before the spring campaign opens, I wish to express in
this way my entire satisfaction with what you have done up
to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars
of your plan I neither know nor seek to know. You are
vigilant and self-reliant, and [I put no] restraints or con-
straints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great
disaster or capture of any of our men in great numbers shall
be avoided, I know that these points are less likely to
escape your attention than they would be mine. If there
be anything wanting which is within my power to give, do
not fail to let me know it And now with a brave army and
a just cause, may God sustain you !
Yours very truly,
(Signed) A. LINCOLN.
I am not aware that there was ever a serious discord
or misunderstanding between Mr. Lincoln and General
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. l8/
Grant except on a single occasion. From the com-
mencement of the struggle, Lincoln's policy was to break
the back-bone of the Confederacy by depriving it of
its principal means of subsistence. Cotton was its
vital aliment ; deprive it of this, and the rebellion must
necessarily collapse. The Hon. Elihu B. Washburne
from the outset was opposed to any contraband traffic
with the Confederates. Lincoln had given permits and
passes through the lines to two persons, Mr. Joseph
Mattox, of Maryland, and General Singleton, of Illinois,
to enable them to bring cotton and other Southern
products from Virginia. Washburne heard of it, called
immediately on Mr. Lincoln, and after remonstrating
with him on the impropriety of such a demarche, threat-
ened to have General Grant countermand the permits
if they were not revoked. Naturally, both became
excited. Lincoln declared that he did not believe
General Grant would take upon himself the responsibility
of such an act. " I will show you, sir, I will show you
whether Grant will do it or not," responded Mr. Wash-
burne as he abruptly withdrew.
By the next boat, subsequent to this interview, the
Congressman left Washington for the headquarters of
General Grant. He returned shortly afterward to the
city, and so likewise did Mattox and Singleton. Grant
had countermanded the permits.
The following important order relative to trade-
permits was issued by Lieutenant- General Grant about
this time :
1 88 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE U. S.
CITY POINT, VA., March 10, 1865.
Special Orders, No. 48.
i . The operations on all Treasury trade-permits, and all
other trade-permits and licenses to trade, by whomsoever
granted, within the State of Virginia, except that portion
known as the Eastern Shore, and the States of North
Carolina and South Carolina, and that portion of the
State of Georgia immediately bordering on the Atlantic,
including the City of Savannah, are hereby suspended until
further orders. All contracts and agreements made under or
by virtue of any trade-permit or license within any of said
States or parts of States, during the existence of this order,
will be deemed void, and the subject of such contracts or
agreements will be seized by the military authorities for the
benefit of the government, whether the same is at the time
of such contracts or agreements within their reach or at any
time thereafter comes within their reach, either by the opera-
tions of war or the acts of the contracting parties or their
agents. The delivery of all goods contracted for and not
delivered before the publication of this order is prohibited.
Supplies of all kinds are prohibited from passing into any
of said States or parts of States, except such as are absolutely
necessary for the wants of those living within the lines of
actual military occupation, and under no circumstances will
military commanders allow them to pass beyond the lines
they actually hold.
By command of Lieutenant-General Grant.
T. S. BOWERS,
Under all the circumstances it was a source of exulta-
tion to Mr. Washburne and his friends, and of corres-
ponding surprise and mortification to the President.
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 189
But he suppressed the resentment to which General
Grant's conduct might naturally have given rise, and,
with the equanimity and self-control that was habitual
with him, merely remarked : " I wonder when General
Grant changed his mind on this subject. He was the
first man, after the commencement of the war, to grant
a permit for the passage of cotton through the lines,
and that to his own father." In referring afterwards to
the subject, he said : " It made me feel my insignificance
keenly at the moment; but if my friends Washburne,
Henry Wilson, and others derive pleasure from so
unworthy a victory over me, I leave them to its full
enjoyment." 1 This ripple on the otherwise unruffled
current of their intercourse did not disturb the per-
sonal relations between Lincoln and Grant; but there
was little cordiality between the President and Messrs.
Washburne and Wilson afterwards.
Mr. Lincoln, when asked if he had seen the Wade-
Davis manifesto, the Phillips speech* etc., replied : " No,
* In a speech at Cooper Institute in New York City, on the
Presidential election (1864), Wendell Phillips said that for thirty
years he had labored to break up the Union in the interest of jus-
tice, and now he labored to save it in the same interest. The same
curse that he invoked on the old Union he would invoke on a new
Union if it is not founded on justice to the negro. " Science
must either demonstrate that the negro is not a man, or politics
must accord to him equality at the ballot-box and in offices of
trust." He judged Mr. Lincoln by his words and deeds, and so
judging he was " unwilling to trust Abraham Lincoln with the
future of the country. Let it be granted that Mr. Lincoln is
pledged to Liberty and Union ; but this pledge was wrung out of
him by the Cleveland movement, and was a mere electioneering
pledge. Mr. Lincoln is a politician. Politicians are like the
190 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
I have not seen them, nor do I care to see them. I
have seen enough to satisfy me that I am a failure, not
only in the opinion of the people in rebellion, but of
many distinguished politicians of my own party. But
time will show whether I am right or they are right, and
I am content to abide its decision. I have enough
to look after without giving much of my time to the
bones of a horse's fore-shoulder, not a straight one in it. A
reformer is like a Doric column of iron, straight, strong, and
immovable. It is a momentous responsibility to trust Mr. Lincoln
where we want a Doric column to stand stern and strong for the
Nation. ... I am an Abolitionist, but I am also a citizen watch-
ful of constitutional Liberty ; and I say if President Lincoln is
inaugurated on the votes of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas,
every citizen is bound to resist him. Are you willing to sacrifice
the constitutional rights of seventy years for your fondness for an
individual ? "
Mr. Phillips then quoted some opinions from prominent men in
the Republican party. " A man in the field said, ' The re-election
of Abraham Lincoln will be a disaster.' Another said, 'The
re-election of Abraham Lincoln will be national destruction.'
Said another, 'There is no government at Washington, noth-
ing there.' Winter Davis of Maryland testifies to his [Lincoln's]
inability. Said another, ' That proclamation will not stand a
week before the Supreme Court ; but I had rather trust it there
than Abraham Lincoln to make the judges.' Mr. Lincoln has
secured his success just as the South used to secure its suc-
cess. He says to the radicals of the Republican party, ' I am
going to nominate myself at Baltimore : risk a division of the
party if you dare! 'and the radicals submitted. Political Massa-
chusetts submitted, and is silent ; but Antislavery Massachusetts
calls to the people to save their own cause." Mr. Phillips said
he "wanted by free speech to let Abraham Lincoln know that we
are stronger than Abraham Lincoln, and that he is a servant to
obey us. I distrust the man who uses whole despotism in Massa-
chusetts and half despotism in South Carolina, and that man is
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. IQI
consideration of the subject of who shall be my successor
in office. The position is not an easy one ; and the
occupant, whoever he may be, for the next four years,
will have little leisure to pluck a thorn or plant a rose
in his own pathway." It was urged that this opposition
must be embarrassing to his Administration, as well
as damaging to the party. He replied : " Yes, that is
true ; but our friends Wade, Davis, Phillips, and others
are hard to please. I am not capable of doing so. I
cannot please them without wantonly violating not only
my oath, but the most vital principles upon which our
government was founded. As to those who, like Wade
and the rest, see fit to depreciate my policy and cavil
at my official acts, I shall not complain of them. I
accord them the utmost freedom of speech and liberty
of the press, but shall not change the policy I have
adopted in the full belief that I am right. I feel on
this subject as an old Illinois farmer once expressed
himself while eating cheese. He was interrupted in the
midst of his repast by the entrance of his son, who
exclaimed, ' Hold on, dad ! there 's skippers in that
cheese you 're eating ! ' ' Never mind, Tom,' said he,
as he kept on munching his cheese, ' if they can stand it
I can.' "
On another occasion Mr. Lincoln said to me: "If
the unworthy ambition of politicians and the jealousy
that exists in the army could be repressed, and all
unite in a common aim and a common endeavor, the
rebellion would soon be crushed." He conversed with
IQ2 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
me freely and repeatedly on the subject of the unfairness
and intemperance of his opponents in Congress, of the
project of a dictatorship, etc. The reverses at Fred-
ericksburg and Chancellorsville Mr. Lincoln fully com-
prehended ; and he believed them to have been caused by
the absence of a proper support of Burnside and Hooker,
prompted by the jealousies of other superior officers.
The appointment of a general to the supreme com-
mand of the Army of the Potomac, made vacant by the
resignation of General Burnside, became a question of
urgent import. General Rosecrans was the choice of
the Secretary of War. The President regarded it as
inexpedient to make the appointment outside the gen-
eral officers serving in the Army of the Potomac. Hav-
ing little preference in the selection of a successor
to General Burnside, Mr. Lincoln, after advisement,
adopted the views of the military department of the
government, and offered the chief command to General
Reynolds. The latter, however, declined to accept the
trust, unless a wider latitude of action were granted him
than had hitherto been accorded to officers occupying
this high post.
The reverses in the field already referred to having
occurred since General McClellan was relieved from
the chief command of the Union forces, there now arose
among his old companions-in-arms, and in the army
generally, a clamor for his reinstatement as Commander
of the Army of the Potomac. The propriety of such
action was made the subject of a Cabinet consultation,
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 193
which resulted in the rejection of an expedient so
manifestly looking towards a dictatorship.
A strong influence was now exerted by the immediate
friends of General Hooker in behalf of his appointment
as Commander-in-Chief, some of them being prompted
by personal ambition, others by even less worthy
motives. These partisans of a worthy and deserving
officer, whose aspirations were known to be entirely
within the sphere of military preferment, united their
forces with a powerful political coterie, having for their
chief object the elevation of Mr. Chase to the Presidency
upon the expiration of Mr. Lincoln's first term. It was
believed by this faction that Hooker, in the event of
his bringing the war to a successful conclusion, being
himself unambitious of office, might not be unwilling to
lend his prestige and influence to a movement in favor
of that distinguished statesman as the successor of Mr.
Lincoln in the Presidency. Up to the present time the
war had been conducted rather at the dictation of a
political bureaucracy than in accordance purely with
considerations of military strategy. Hooker was ap-
pointed by the President under a full knowledge of his
In conversation with Mr. Lincoln one night about the
time General Burnside was relieved, I was urging upon
him the necessity of looking well to the fact that there
was a scheme on foot to depose him, and to appoint a
military dictator in his stead. He laughed, and said :
"I think, for a man of accredited courage, you are the
194 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
most panicky person I ever knew; you can see more
dangers to me than all the other friends I have. You
are all the time exercised about somebody taking my
life, murdering me ; and now you have discovered a
new danger : now you think the people of this great
government are likely to turn me out of office. I do
not fear this from the people any more than I fear
assassination from an individual. Now, to show you
my appreciation of what my French friends would call
a coup d'tiat, let me read you a letter I have written to
General Hooker, whom I have just appointed to the
command of the Army of the Potomac." He then
opened the drawer of his table and took out and read
the letter to General Hooker, which accompanied his
commission as Commander of the Army of the Potomac,
of which letter the following is a copy :
WASHINGTON, D. C., Jan. 26, 1863.
Major-General Hooker :
GENERAL, I have placed you at the head of the Army
of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what
appears to me sufficient reasons ; and yet I think it best for
you to know that there are some things in regard to which
I am not quite satisfied with you.
I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which of
course I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with
your profession, in which you are right. You have con-
fidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not indispens-
able, quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable
bounds, does good rather than harm. But I think that
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 195
during General Burnside's command of the army you have
taken counsel of your ambition solely, and thwarted him as
much as you could ; in which you did a great wrong to the
country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother
officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your
saying that both the country and the army needed a dictator.
Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have
given you the command. Only those generals who gain suc-
cess can set themselves up as dictators. What I ask of you
is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The
government will support you to the utmost of its ability,
which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do
for all its commanders.
I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse
into the army, of criticising their commander and withholding
confidence from him, will now turn upon you ; and I shall
assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor
Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of
an army while such a spirit prevails in it.
And now, beware of rashness, but with energy and
sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.
Yours very truly,
Some little time afterwards, in referring with much
feeling to this letter, General Hooker declared : " It
was just such a letter as a father might have addressed
to his son. It was a great rebuke, however, to me at
The question of a dictatorship had been everywhere
ventilated. The President had heard a great deal about
it ; but he treated the whole subject as a pure vagary,
not apprehending any serious danger from it. At first
196 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
it may have given him some annoyance ; but it soon
ceased to disturb him, and ultimately it became the
source of no little mirth and amusement to him. I was
present upon one occasion when a party of the intimate
friends of Mr. Lincoln were assembled at the White
House, and the project of a dictatorship was the topic
of conversation. The President gave full play to the
exuberance of his humor and his sense of the ridiculous,
entirely banishing the anxieties and apprehensions of
such of his friends as were inclined to regard the ques-
tion from a more serious point of view. " I will tell
you," said he, "a story which I think illustrates the
"Some years ago a couple of emigrants from the
Emerald Isle were wending their way westward in search
of employment as a means of subsistence. The shades
of night had already closed in upon them as they found
themselves in the vicinity of a large sheet of standing
water, more vulgarly called a big pond. They were
greeted upon their approach by a symphony of bull-
frogs, which was the only manifestation of life in the
darkness that surrounded them, literally ' making night
hideous' with noise. This sort of harmony was alto-
gether new to them, and for a moment they were greatly
terrified at the diabolic din. Instinctively and resolutely
grasping their shillalahs, under the impression that Beel-
zebub or some of his deputies was about to dispute
their farther progress, they cautiously advanced toward the
spot from whence the strange concert proceeded. The
HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 197
frogs, however, alarmed at their approaching footsteps,
had beat a precipitate retreat, and taken refuge in their
watery hiding-places, and all was as silent as the grave.
After waiting for some seconds in breathless suspense for
the appearance of the enemy, not a sound being audible,
in great disappointment and disgust at the loss of so
favorable an opportunity for a free fight, one of our
heroes, seizing his companion by the coat-sleeve, whis-
pered confidentially in his ear : ' Faith, Pat, and it 's my
deliberate opinion that it was nothing but a blasted
noise ! ' "
Pursuing the topic in the same humorous vein, Mr.
Lincoln again convulsed his auditors by relating the
following story :
" A benighted wayfarer having lost his way somewhere
amidst the wilds of our Northwestern frontiers, the
embarrassments of his position were increased by a furi-
ous tempest which suddenly burst upon him. To add
to the discomforts of the situation his horse had given
out, leaving him exposed to all the dangers of the pitiless
storm. The peals of thunder were terrific, the frequent
flashes of lightning affording the only guide to the route
he was pursuing as he resolutely trudged onward leading
his jaded steed. The earth seemed fairly to tremble
beneath him in the war of elements. One bolt threw
him suddenly upon his knees. Our traveller was not a
prayerful man, but finding himself involuntarily brought
to an attitude of devotion, he addressed himself to the
Throne of Grace in the following prayer for his deliver-
198 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
ance : ' O God ! hear my prayer this time, for Thou
knowest it is not often that I call upon Thee. And, O
Lord ! if it is all the same to Thee, give us a little more
light and a little less noise ! ' I hope," said Mr. Lincoln,
pointing the moral of the anecdote, " that we may have
a much stronger disposition manifested hereafter, on the
part of our civilian warriors, to unite in suppressing the
rebellion, and a little less noise as to how and by whom
the chief executive office shall be administered."
HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN.
THE character of no statesman in all the history of
the world has been more generally or more
completely misunderstood than that of Abraham Lincoln.
Many writers describe him as a mere creature of circum-
stances floating like a piece of driftwood on the current of
events ; and about the only attribute of statesmanship they
concede to him is a sort of instinctive divination of the
popular feeling at a given period, and on a given subject.
They do not thus dwarf Mr. Lincoln in set phrase or
formal propositions, but that is the logic and effect of
their narratives. Some of these writers go even further,
and represent him as an almost unconscious instrument
in the hands of the Almighty, about as irresponsible as
the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night which
went before the Israelites through the wilderness.
The truth is, that Mr. Lincoln was at once the ablest
and the most adroit politician of modern times. In all
the history of the world I can recall no example of a
great leader, having to do with a people in any degree
free, who himself shaped and guided events to the same
extent, unless it was Julius Caesar. Mr. Lincoln was not
the creature of circumstances. He made circumstances
2OO RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
to suit the necessities of his own situation. He was less
influenced by the inferior minds around him than was
Washington, Jefferson, or Jackson. His policy was inva-
riably formed by his own judgment, and it seldom took
even the slightest color from the opinions of others, how-
ever decided. In this originality and independence of
understanding he resembled somewhat the great William
Mr. Lincoln was supposed at the outset of his Admin-
istration to have placed himself, as it were, under the
tutelage of William H. Seward ; and later he was gener-
ally believed to have abjectly endured the almost insult-
ing domination of Edwin M. Stanton. But I say without
the slightest fear of contradiction, that neither Mr. Seward
nor Mr. Stanton, great men as they both were, ever
succeeded either in leading or misleading Mr. Lincoln
in a single instance. The Administration was not a
week old when Mr. Seward had found his level, and the
larger purposes, dangerous and revolutionary, with which
Mr. Stanton entered the War Department, were baffled
and defeated before he had time to fashion the instru-
ments of usurpation. Consciously or unconsciously, Mr.
Seward and Mr. Stanton, like others, wrought out the
will of the great man who had called them to his
side to be appropriately used in furtherance of plans
far greater and more comprehensive than they themselves
I shall not linger here to present instances of this
subordination of high officials and party leaders to Mr.
HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 2OI
Lincoln ; they may be gleaned without number from the
published histories of the times. I shall content myself
with recounting some of his relations with the illustrious,
and at that time powerful, Democratic captain, George
General McClellan was as bitterly disliked by the
politicians of the country as he was cordially loved by
the troops under his command. Whatever may be said
by the enemies of this unsuccessful general, it must be
remembered that he took command of the Army of the
Potomac when it was composed of a mass of undisci-
plined and poorly armed men. Yet after fighting some
of the hardest battles of the war, he left it, in less than
eighteen months, a splendid military organization, well
prepared for the accomplishment of the great achieve-
ments afterward attained by General Grant. At the
time McClellan took command of that army, the South
was powerful in all the elements of successful warfare.
It had much changed when General Grant took com-
mand. Long strain had greatly weakened and exhausted
the forces and resources of the South. There had come
a change from the former buoyant bravery of hope to
the desperate bravery of doubtful success; and it may
well be questioned whether any commander could have
crushed the rebellion in the time during which General
McClellan was at the head of the army. That he lacked
aggressiveness must be admitted by his most ardent
admirers. His greatness as a defensive general pre-
cluded this quality. 7
2O2 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
At one time when things seemed at a standstill, and
no aggressive movements could be induced by the
anxious Washington authorities, Mr. Lincoln went to
General McClellan's headquarters to have a talk with
him; but for some reason he was unable to get an
audience with the general. He returned to the White
House much disturbed at his failure to see the com-
mander of the Union forces, and immediately sent for
two other general officers, to have a consultation. On
their arrival, he told them he must have some one to
talk to about the situation ; and as he had failed to see
General McClellan, he had sent for them to get their
views as to the possibility or probability of soon com-
mencing active operations with the Army of the Potomac.
He said he desired an expression of their opinion about
the matter, for his was, that, if something were not done
and done soon, the bottom would fall out of the whole
thing ; and he intended, if General McClellan did not
want to use the Army, to " borrow " it from him, pro-
vided he could see how it could be made to do some-
thing ; for, said he, " If McClellan can't fish, he ought
to cut bait at a time like this."
Mr. Lincoln never regarded General McClellan with
personal or political jealousy. He never feared him.
He once profoundly trusted him, and to the very last he
hoped to employ his genius and his popularity in the
deliverance of their common country. His unfailing
sagacity saw in him a rising general, who should be at
once Democratic and patriotic, the readiest possible
HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 203
instrument of harmonizing the North, unifying the senti-
ment of the army, crushing the rebellion, and restoring
the Union. Having, then, no thought of imparting to
the war any other object or result than the restoration of
the Union, pure and simple, and this being likewise
McClellan's view, the harmony and confidence that
obtained between them were plants of easy growth.
The rise of discord, the political intrigues, Democratic
and Republican, which steadily aimed to separate these
noble characters, who were as steadily, of their own
impulses, tending toward each other, these are mat-
ters of public history. Through it all, Mr. Lincoln
earnestly endeavored to support McClellan in the field ;
and the diversion of men and the failure of supplies
were never in any degree due to a desire upon his part to
cripple the Democratic general. The success of this
Democratic general was the one thing necessary to
enable the President to hold in check the aggressive
leaders of his own party, to restore the Union with the
fewest sacrifices, and to complete the triumph of his
Administration- without dependence upon interests and
factions which he seriously and constantly dreaded.
One of the most striking instances of Mr. Lincoln's
great moral courage and self-reliance occurred just after
the second battle of Bull Run. The loss of this battle
caused great consternation, not only in Washington, but
throughout the whole country. Everything was thrown
into confusion. All the Cabinet officers, except Secre-
tary Welles and Secretary Seward (the latter being
204 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
absent at the time), signed a protest denouncing the
conduct of McClellan and demanding his immediate
dismissal from the service, which protest, however,
was not delivered to the President. The feeling of
indignation was very general throughout the country
against McClellan, and it was greatly intensified by
exaggerated reports of his supposed misconduct. Not-
withstanding this deplorable state of things, McClellan
was appointed in command of the forces at Washington.
At a Cabinet meeting held three days after this battle,
the members first learned of this appointment. They
were thunderstruck at the announcement, and great
regret was expressed. Mr. Stanton, with some excite-
ment, remarked that no such order had issued from the
War Department. The President then said with great
calmness, but with some degree of emphasis, " No, Mr.
Secretary, the order was mine ; and I will be respon-
sible for it to the country." By way of explanation, he
said something had to be done; but there did not
appear to be any one to do it, and he therefore took
the responsibility on himself. He then continued to
say that McClellan had the confidence of the troops
beyond any other officer, and could, under the circum-
stances, more speedily and effectively reorganize them
and put them into fighting trim than any other general.
" This is what is now wanted most ; and these," said
the President, "were my reasons for placing him in
Mr. Lincoln well knew the danger, and was appre-
HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 205
hensive of losing perhaps all except one of his Cabinet
members by this action ; but he felt at the same time
deeper apprehension of danger to the whole country if ^f
the army were not immediately reorganized and fitted
for instant action. He knew he could replace his Cabi-
net from the patriotic men of his acquaintance, but he
feared he could not replace the army in statu quo unless
he took the risk of losing them. He fully realized, as
he said, that nearly all the trouble had grown out of
military jealousies, and that it was time for some one to
assert and exercise power. He caused personal con-
siderations to be sacrificed for the public good, and in
doing so he subdued his own personal feelings in the
spirit of unselfish patriotism. 8
Between Francis P. Blair and Mr. Lincoln there
existed from first to last a confidential relationship as
close as that maintained by Mr. Lincoln with any other
man. To Mr. Blair he almost habitually revealed him-
self upon delicate and grave subjects more fully than to
any other. When he had conceived an important but
difficult plan, he was almost certain, before giving it
practical form, to try it by the touchstone of Mr. Blair's
fertile and acute mind. Mr. Blair understood Mr. Lin-
coln's conception of the importance of McClellan to the
President and to the country, and, like the President
himself, he realized that McClellan's usefulness, unless
destroyed by some disaster in the field, could be
abridged only by some needless misunderstanding be-
tween the two. He knew the stubborn spirit of the
2O6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
I Democratic party from long experience in it and with
it; and he early foresaw the tremendous influence
which would inevitably be brought to bear on McClellan
to separate him from Lincoln. It was because he fore-
saw this that he desired to place nearest to General
McClellan in the field some one who, having the com-
plete confidence of both, would form a connecting link
which could not be broken.
To this end, about the time General Pleasanton was
appointed brigadier- general, and assigned to report to
General McClellan, Mr. Blair sought a conference with
him and said : " You are going to McClellan. You will
have confidential relations with him. I like him, and I
want him to succeed; but no general can succeed
without proper relations with the Administration. Say
to him from me that Frank P. Blair, Jr., can be of great
service to him. I shall have access to the Administra-
tion, and can do much to keep McClellan right. Say to
him that he ought to ask for the assignment of .Blair to
him, and to make him his chief of staff. Now, Pleasan-
ton, when you get down in Virginia, say this to Mac,
and telegraph me the result."
It was then agreed that the communication should be
in cipher. If favorable, " The weather is fair; " if
otherwise, " The weather is fair, but portends a storm."
Mr. Blair's message was given to McClellan, and Gene-
ral Pleasanton saw that it made an impression ; but
General McClellan faltered, subject, no doubt, to some
of the influences that Mr. Blair had foreseen. After
HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN.
three days' deliberation, the " bad weather " was indi-
cated to Mr. Blair.
In the campaign for Presidential honors in 1864, Gene-
ral McClellan, in his letter of acceptance, repudiated the
obvious meaning of the Democratic platform framed for
his candidacy. The Convention demanded " a cessation of
hostilities with a view of an ultimate convention of States."
To this McClellan responded : " So soon as it is clear,
or even probable, that our present adversaries are ready
for peace on the basis of the Union, we should exhaust
all the resources of statesmanship ... to secure such a
peace." In this he stood precisely with Lincoln. The
sentiments of the representatives of the Democratic
party in Convention assembled seemed to be : Peace
first, and Union would inevitably follow. The sentiments
of the respective chosen party standard-bearers were :
Union first, that peace might follow.
There was at no time during the campaign a reason-
able doubt of the election of Mr. Lincoln over General
McClellan. Early in this campaign, on going into Mr.
Lincoln's office one night, I found him in a more gleeful
humor than usual. He was alone, and said, " I am glad
you have come in. Lamon, do you know that ' we have
met the enemy, and they are ourn ? ' I think the cabal
of obstructionists ' am busted ! ' I feel certain that if I
live, I am going to be re-elected. Whether I deserve to
be or not, it is not for me to say ; but on the score even
of remunerative chances for speculative service, I now
am inspired with the hope that our disturbed country
208 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
further requires the valuable services of your humble
servant. 'Jordan has been a hard road to travel,' but
I feel now that, notwithstanding the enemies I have made
and the faults I have committed, I '11 be dumped .on the
right side of that stream. I hope, however, that I may
never have another four years of such anxiety, tribulation,
and abuse. My only ambition is and has been to put
down the rebellion and restore peace ; after which I
want to resign my office, go abroad, take some rest,
study foreign governments, see something of foreign life,
and in my old age die in peace with the good will of
all of God's creatures."
About two weeks before the election, Mr. Lincoln
began to consider how to make the result most decisive.
He again recurred to McClellan, and again consulted
Mr. Blair. It seemed that neither of these sagacious
men could entirely free himself from the thought that in
one way or another General McClellan, with the Demo-
cratic party at his back, was somehow to contribute a
mighty blow toward the suppression of the rebellion and
the pacification of the country. With the respect which
they both entertained for General McClellan's intelli-
gence, with the faith they both had in his patriotism,
they did not doubt that, seeing as they did the utter
impossibility of his own election to the Presidency, he
would be willing, if the way were graciously opened to
him, to save his party from the humiliation of a crushing
defeat, to use his remaining power to restore the Union
without further unnecessary bloodshed, and to tranquil-
HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN". 2OQ
lize the country without more needless and heedless
Mr. Lincoln said to Mr. Blair : " I shall be re-elected.
No one can doubt it. I do not doubt it, nor do you.
It is patent to all. General McClellan must see it as
plainly as we do. Why should he not act upon it, and
help me to give peace to this distracted country ? Would
it not be a glorious thing for the Union cause and the
country, now that my re-election is certain, for him to
decline to run, favor my election, and make certain a
speedy termination of this bloody war? Don't you
believe that such a course upon his part would unify
public partisan sentiment, and give a decisive and fatal
blow to all opposition to the re-establishment of peace
in the country? I think he is man enough and patriot
enough to do it. Do you? You have been his friend
and mine. Will you try this last appeal to General
McClellan's patriotism ? "
Mr. Blair heartily assented; and, as the result of
their consultation, Mr. Lincoln wrote a most remarkable
autograph letter to his rival, suggesting that he retire
from the canvass and allow Mr. Lincoln's election, then
visibly impending, to be as nearly unanimous as might
be. The compensations to General McClellan and his
party for the timely relinquishment of a mere shadow
were to be McClellan's immediate elevation to be Gene-
ral of the Army, the appointment of his father-in-law,
Marcy, to be major-general, and the very substantial
recognition of the Democracy which would necessarily
have followed these arrangements.
210 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
This letter containing these distinct propositions was
placed in Mr. Blair's hands, and by him delivered to
General McClellan.' It was the attempted stroke of a
master. Had it succeeded, had the propositions con-
tained in the letter been accepted, Mr. Lincoln might
have lived to prevent the follies and the crimes of recon-
struction, and to bless his country with an era of peace
and good -will, thus preventing those long years of
ferocious political contention over the results of the war
which followed its conclusion and his murder.
What the great soldier might have done, if left alone
to determine for himself the proper course of action in
the premises, can never be known.
The letter was submitted by General McClellan to
some of his party friends in New York, and its wise and
statesmanlike propositions were declined. On the morn-
ing of the election he resigned his commission. His
party was routed, and upon the death of Mr. Lincoln
was opened the new Iliad of partisan conflict and recon-
Mr. Lincoln fearlessly struck out and boldly pursued,
in situations the most exacting, capital plans, of which
none knew except those who might be absolutely ne-
cessary to their execution. If he failed in the patriotic
objects which he proposed to accomplish by coalition
with McClellan, and was ultimately compelled to achieve
them by less Napoleonic and more tedious methods, the
splendid conception and the daring attempt were his
alone, and prove him one of the most masterful politi-
HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 211
cians of this or any recent age. The division of the
Roman world between the members of the Triumvirate
was not comparable to this proposal of his, because the
Roman was a smaller world than the American, and it
was partitioned among three, while this was only to be
More than a quarter of a century has passed, and still
the press teems with inquiries concerning the relations
between Lincoln and McClellan, with accusation and
defense by the literary partisans of each. Had the
general seen fit to respond to the magnanimous tender
of the President, their names would have been equally
sacred hi every American household, and their fame
would have been united, like their parties and their
country, by an act of patriotic statesmanship unparalleled
in the history of this world.
MR. LINCOLN regarded all public offices within
his gift as a sacred trust, to be administered
solely for the people, and as in no sense a fund upon
which he could draw for the payment of private ac-
counts. He was exempt from the frailties common to
most men, and he cast aside the remembrance of all
provocations for which he had cause to nourish resent-
ment. Here is a notable instance : A rather distin-
guished man had been for years a respected acquaintance ;
his son, who was in the army, was convicted of a grave
offence, the penalty of which might have been death.
Lincoln, at the solicitation of the father, pardoned the
son. Time passed on until the political campaign of
1864, when a secret military organization was formed in
the State of Illinois to oppose the re-election of Lincoln,
and that father was at the head of this secret organiza-
tion. Some time after the election, the filling of an
important bureau office in the Treasury Department was
under advisement. Among the applicants was an old
acquaintance of Mr. Lincoln, who was strongly recom-
mended by. his friends. After a pause, Mr. Lincoln
HIS MAGNANIMITY. 21$
thoughtfully said, " Well, gentlemen, whatever you may
think, I never thought Mr. had any more than an
average amount of ability when we were young men
together, I really didn't;" and then, after a short
silence, he added : " But this is a matter of opinion, and
I suppose he thought just the same about me ; he had
reason to, and here I am ! I guess we shall have to
give him some good place, but not this one. This posi-
tion requires a man of peculiar ability to fill it. I have
been thinking seriously of giving it to a man who does
not like me very well, and who sought to defeat my
renomination. I can't afford to take notice of and
punish every person who has seen fit to oppose my
election. We want a competent man for this place. I
know of no one who could perform the duties of this
most responsible office better than ." calling him by
name. And this ingrate father got the appointment !
At another time there was an interview at the White
House between a prominent politician of New York and
Mr. Lincoln, in reference to the removal of an office-
holder in New York. Every reason that could be
thought of was urged in favor of the removal, and finally
it was urged that this office-holder abused Mr. Lincoln
personally. Mr. Lincoln at last got out of patience, and
ended the interview as follows : " You cannot think
to be half as mean to me as I know him to be ; but I
cannot run this thing upon the theory that every office-
holder must think I am the greatest man in the nation,
and I will not." The man named, notwithstanding his
214 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
meanness to Mr. Lincoln, remained in office as long as
Mr. Lincoln was President.
So much of Mr. Lincoln's time was taken up with
questions of office-seeking and office-holding, when he
felt every moment should be devoted to plans to avert
the perils then threatening the country, that he once
compared himself to " a man so busy in letting rooms in
one end of his house that he cannot stop to put out the
fire that is burning the other."
Mr. Lincoln was an ambitious man, but he desired
power less for the sake of prestige or authority than for
the opportunities it presented of being useful and bene-
ficent in its exercise. Eagerly as he sought the approval
of his fellow-citizens where this could be attained with-
out the sacrifice of principle, he was always generous in
according to others whatever would lead to public ap-
proval. Immediately after the battle of Gettysburg, Mr.
Lincoln sat down and wrote a peremptory order to
General Meade to intercept Lee in his retreat, give him
battle, and by this bold stroke crush the rebel army and
end the rebellion. The order was accompanied by a
friendly note, in which the great patriot said to Meade :
" The order I inclose is not of record. If you succeed,
you need not publish the order. If you fail, publish it.
Then if you succeed, you will have all the credit of the
movement. If not, I '11 take the responsibility."
The manifestation of popular admiration and esteem
as the people's choice for the highest position within
their gift, Mr. Lincoln most highly valued, while his self-
reliance and his amour propre led him at times to look
upon favors bestowed upon him as a matter of personal
right, as a consideration due to himself individually.
With all this, his love of country was his paramount
incentive. There was no period in the progress of the
war at which he would not willingly have laid down his
life, if by so doing he could have averted further blood-
shed, and remanded his fellow-countrymen to the enjoy-
ment of a restored tranquillity and renewed brotherhood.
One instance in which this sentiment led him to propose
an extraordinary act of self-immolation is deserving of
Mr. Lincoln ardently desired, on the return of peace,
to exercise his functions as Chief Magistrate of a re-
united country. This, with the reconstruction of the
general government, was the darling aspiration of his
heart, the dearest heritage which the advent of peace
could bestow. But he subjected this ambition to the
promptings of a Roman patriotism, and proposed upon
certain conditions a frank, full, and honest renunciation
of all claims to the Presidency for a second term ; and
in declining, under any circumstances, to be a candidate
for re-election, he would cordially throw his entire influ-
ence, in so far as he could control it, in behalf of Horatio
Seymour, then governor of New York, for President.
The conditions were substantially as follows : Governor
Seymour was to withdraw his opposition to the draft, use
his authority and influence as governor in putting down
the riots in New York, and co-operate in all reasonable
2i6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
ways with the Administration in the suppression of the
Southern rebellion. This proposition was to be made
through Mr. Thurlow Weed.
It so happened that at this time Mr. Weed was dis-
satisfied with the President for something he had either
done or omitted to do, and had on several occasions
refused to come to Washington when his presence was
earnestly desired there. He must now be seen and
advised with ; he must personally effect the negotiation,
for he could accomplish it more successfully than any
other man. How to induce him to come to Washing-
ton was the question to be solved. " The tinkling of
Mr. Seward's little bell " had struck terror to the souls
of evil-doers in the North, and all his dispatches over the
wires were narrowly watched. It was inexpedient for
him to use telegraphic facilities of communication except
upon the most commonplace subjects, since everything
emanating from him was eagerly scanned and devoured
by the quid nuncs throughout the country. A special
messenger was therefore decided on, for affairs were
now in a precarious condition, and daily, hourly growing
worse, and time was important. The messenger started
immediately for New York, but was recalled before
reaching the train. He was thereupon directed to tele-
graph in his own name to Mr. Weed, and that gentleman
arrived in Washington by the next succeeding train.
After a lengthy interview with the President and Mr.
Seward, Mr. Weed telegraphed to Governor Seymour
requesting him to come to Washington on business of
HIS MAGNANIMITY. 21 7
urgent importance. This the governor declined to do,
adding, in his reply, that the distance to and from Wash-
ington and Albany was precisely the same, and that if
they wanted to confer with him, to come to Albany,
where he would be glad to meet them. Mr. Weed,
upon this, left for that city, and after making a very
brief stay there, returned to Washington and reported
" Proposition declined."
This answer was not expected by Mr. Lincoln, espe-
cially in time of civil war, and from the governor of the
great and influential State of New York; and it was
with sincere and manifest chagrin that the President
saw himself deterred from making the magnanimous self-
Nothing that affected the interests of the government
escaped Mr. Lincoln's vigilant thought and careful con-
sideration. I recollect that on one occasion, just after
the greenback currency got under full headway of circu-
lation, I was in his office when the conversation turned
on the condition of our finances, and on the greenback
as a representative of money. He was in high spirits
that day, and seemed to feel happier than I had seen
him for a long time. I casually asked him if he knew
how our currency was made.
"Yes," said he ; "I think it is about as the lawyers
would say in the following manner, to wit : the en-
graver strikes off the sheets, passes them over to the
Register of the currency, who places his earmarks upon
them, signs them, hands them over to Father Spinner,
2 1 8 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
who then places his wonderful signature at the bottom,
and turns them over to Mr. Chase, who, as Secretary of
the United States Treasury, issues them to the public as
money, and may the good Lord help any fellow that
does n't take all he can honestly get of them ! " Taking
from his pocket a five dollar greenback, with a twinkle
of his eye, he said : " Look at Spinner's signature !
Was there ever anything like it on earth ? Yet it is unmis-
takable ; no one will ever be able to counterfeit it ! " *
" But," I said, " you certainly don't suppose that
Spinner actually wrote his name on that bill, do you? "
" Certainly I do ; why not? "
I then asked, " How much of this currency have we
He remained thoughtful for a moment, and then
stated the amount.
I continued : " How many times do you think a man
can write a signature like Spinner's in the course of
twenty- four hours ? "
The beam of hilarity left his countenance at once.
He put the greenback into his vest pocket, and walked
the floor ; after awhile he stopped, heaved a long breath
and said, " This thing frightens me ! " He then rang
for a messenger, and told him to ask the Secretary of
the Treasury to please come over to see him. Mr.
Chase soon put in an appearance. Mr. Lincoln stated
the cause of his alarm, and asked Mr. Chase to explain
in detail the modus operandi, the system of checks in
HIS MAGNANIMITY. 2ig
his office, etc., and a lengthy discussion followed,
Lincoln contending that there were not sufficient checks
to afford any degree of safety in the money-making
department, and Mr. Chase insisting that all the guards
for protection were afforded that he could devise. " In
the nature of things," he said, " somebody must be
trusted in this emergency. You have entrusted me, and
Mr. Spinner is entrusted with untold millions, and we
have to trust our subordinates." Words waxed warmer
than I had ever known them to do between these dis-
tinguished gentlemen, when Mr. Lincoln feelingly apolo-
gized by saying,
" Don't think that I am doubting or could doubt your
integrity, or that of Mr. Spinner ; nor am I finding fault
with either of you ; but it strikes me that this thing is all
wrong, and dangerous. I and the country know you and
Mr. Spinner, but we don't know your subordinates, who
are great factors in making this money, and have the
power to bankrupt the government in an hour. Yet
there seems to be no protection against a duplicate
issue of every bill struck, and I can see no way of de-
tecting duplicity until we come to redeem the currency ;
and even then, the duplicate cannot be told from the
The result of this conversation was, that Lincoln
became so impressed with danger from this source that
he called the attention of Congress to the matter, and a
joint committee was appointed. Senator Sprague of
Rhode Island was its chairman; but the result of the
220 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
investigation, like many others during the war, was never
made public to my knowledge. Considering the crippled
financial condition of our country, and the importance
of first-class credit abroad during our war, as little
publicity on the subject as possible was doubtless the
best for us politically.
Apropos of greenbacks, Don Piatt gave a description
in the " North American Review," a few years ago, of
the first proposition to Mr. Lincoln to issue interest-
bearing notes as currency, which was as follows :
" Amasa Walker, a distinguished financier of New Eng-
land, suggested that notes issued directly from the govern-
ment to the people, as currency, should bear interest. This
for the purpose, not only of making the notes popular, but
for the purpose of preventing inflation, by inducing people
to hoard the notes as an investment when the demands of
trade would fail to call them into circulation as a currency.
" This idea struck David Taylor, of Ohio, with such force
that he sought Mr. Lincoln and urged him to put the project
into immediate execution. The President listened patiently,
and at the end said, 'That is a good idea, Taylor; but you
must go to Chase. He is running that end of the machine,
and has time to consider your proposition.' Taylor sought
the Secretary of the Treasury, and laid before him Amasa
Walker's plan. Chase heard him through in a cold, unpleas-
ant manner, and then said: 'That is all very well, Mr.
Taylor; but there is one little obstacle in the way that makes
the plan impracticable, and that is the Constitution.' Saying
this, he turned to his desk, as if dismissing both Mr. Taylor
and his proposition at the same moment.
" The poor enthusiast felt rebuked and humiliated. He
' returned to the President, however, and reported his defeat
HIS MAGNANIMITY. 221
Mr. Lincoln looked at the would-be financier with the expres
sion at times so peculiar to his homely face, that left one in
doubt whether he was jesting or in earnest. 'Taylor!' he
exclaimed, ' go back to Chase and tell him not to bother
himself about the Constitution. Say that I have that sacred
instrument here at the White House, and I am guarding it
with great care. ' Taylor demurred to this, on the ground
that Mr. Chase showed by his manner that he knew all about
it, and did n't wish to be bored by any suggestion. ' We '11 see
about that,' said the President, and taking a card from the
table he wrote upon it, ' The Secretary of the Treasury will
please consider Mr. Taylor's proposition. We must have
money, and I think this a good way to get it. A. LINCOLN.'
" Armed with this, the real father of the greenbacks again
sought the Secretary. He was received more politely than
before, but was cut short in his advocacy of the measure by
a proposition for both of them to see the President. They
did so, and Mr. Chase made a long and elaborate constitu-
tional argument against the proposed measure.
" ' Chase,' said Mr. Lincoln, after the Secretary had con-
cluded, ' down in Illinois I was held to be a pretty good
lawyer, and I believe I could answer every point you have
made; but I don't feel called upon to do it. ... These
rebels are violating the Constitution to destroy the Union ;
I will violate the Constitution, if necessary, to save the
Union : and I suspect, Chase, that our Constitution is going
to have a rough time of it before we get done with this row.
Now, what I want to know is, whether, Constitution aside,
this project of issuing interest-bearing notes is a good one ?'
"'I must say,' responded Mr. Chase, 'that, with the
exception you make, it is not only a good one, but the only
one open to us to raise money. If you say so, I will do
my best to put it into immediate and practical operation,
and you will never hear from me any opposition on this
subject.'" 1 ')
222 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Mr. Lincoln acquired the name of " honest Abe Lin-
coln " by a kind of honesty much higher than that
which restrains a man from the appropriation of his
neighbor's goods. He did not feel at liberty to take
every case that was offered him. He was once over-
heard saying to a man who was consulting him and
earnestly urging his legal rights, "Yes, I can gain your
suit. I can set a neighborhood at loggerheads. I can
distress a widowed mother and six fatherless children,
and get for you six hundred dollars, to which, for all I
can see, she has as good a right as you have. But I will
not do so. There are some legal rights which are moral
Mr. Lincoln at no time in his life could tolerate any-
thing like persecution; his whole nature appeared to
rebel against any appearance of such a thing, and he
never failed to act in the promptest manner when any
such case was brought to his attention. One of the most
celebrated cases ever tried by any court-martial during
the war was that of Franklin W. Smith and his brother,
charged with defrauding the government. These men
bore a high character for integrity. At this time, how-
ever, courts-martial were seldom invoked for any other
purpose than to convict the accused, regardless of the
facts in the case, and the Smiths shared the usual fate of
persons whose charges were submitted to such an arbitra-
ment. They had been kept in prison, their papers seized,
their business destroyed, and their reputation ruined, all
which was followed by a conviction. After the judg-
HIS MAGNANIMITY. 22$
ment of the court, the matter was submitted to the
President for his approval. The case was such a remark-
able one, and was regarded as so monstrous in its unjust
and unwarrantable conclusion, that Mr. Lincoln, after a
full and careful investigation of it, annulled the whole
proceeding. It is very remarkable that the record of
the President's decision could never be found afterward
in the Navy Department. No exact copy can be
obtained of it. Some one in the office, however, familiar
with the tenor and effect of it, furnished its wording as
nearly as possible. The following embraces the senti-
ment, if not the exact words, of that remarkable docu-
" WHEREAS, Franklin W. Smith had transactions with
the Navy Department to the amount of a million and a
quarter of dollars ; and Whereas, he had a chance to steal at
least a quarter of a million and was only charged with steal-
ing twenty-two hundred dollars, and the question now is
about his stealing one hundred, I don't believe he stole any-
thing at all. Therefore, the record and the findings are
disapproved, declared null and void, and the defendants are
In 1862 Senator Sherman had prepared a very elabor-
ate speech in which he devoted a good portion of it to
prove that Mr. Lincoln was a failure and unless some-
thing was soon done by Congress, the war would be a
failure. Someone told Mr. Lincoln that Senator Sher-
man intended to make such a speech. Lincoln said :
" Well Sherman is a patriot and a statesman and is thor-
oughly for the Union ; perhaps his opinion of me may be
224 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
jusf. It may do good. I would not have him change
a word." Lincoln's remarks that night were repeated
to Sherman and they made such an impression on him
that he omitted from his speech the criticism on Lincoln.
Colonel J. W. Forney relates a characteristic incident of
Mr. Lincoln's generosity to an adversary. He says that
one afternoon in February or March of 1865, he was startled
by a visit from his old friend Washington McLean of the
Cincinnati "Inquirer." "I have called," Mr. McLean
said, " to ask you to do me a favor I shall never forget,
and you must do it. I will not take no for an answer.
You, and you alone can serve me."
"Well, old friend," said Colonel Forney, "you know I will
serve you if I can ; what is it?" " Now don't be alarmed
when I tell you that Roger A. Pryor is in Fort Lafayette,
having been captured within our lines, and that I want
you to get him out."
"Roger A. Pryor, of Petersburg; Roger A. Pryor,
who fired on Sumter; Roger A. Prior, the hot-spur of
Congress ? "
" Yes, and your old coadjutor of the Washington Union
when you were both Democrats together. He went into
the Rebellion, is now a prisoner, and I appeal to you to
go with me to the President and ask his release." As
there was no denying his impetuous friend, Colonel For-
ney got into his carriage and they were soon at the White
House. Mr. McLean was introduced and it was soon
found that Mr. Lincoln knew all about him and his paper.
He told his story, which was patiently heard. Colonel
HIS MAGNANIMITY. 22$
Forney followed with a statement of his former relations
with Mr. Pryor, and said that he thought an act of liber-
ality to such a man, and on a request from a frank polit-
ical opponent like Washington McLean would be worthy
of the head of a great nation.
"Let me see," said Mr. Lincoln, as he fixed his spec-
tacles and turned to a little drawer in the desk behind
him, " I think I have a memorandum here that refers to
some good thing done by General Pryor to a party of our
Pennsylvania boys who were taken prisoners in an attack
upon the Petersburg fortifications." And with that he
took out from a small package a statement signed by the
men who had enjoyed the hospitality of General Pryor on
the occasion referred to.
He had, it appears, given them food from his larder
at a time when his own family were in a most desperate
condition for provisions. "The man who can do such
kindness to an enemy," said the President, " cannot be
cruel and revengeful ; " then he wrote some lines on a card
which he handed to Mr. McLean with the remark : " I think
that will do ; at any rate it is all that I can give you," and
they took their leave. Going down stairs they looked with
amazement at the writing on the card, which read thus :
"To Colonel Burke, Commanding at Fort Lafayette,
New York. Please release General Roger A. Pryor,
who will report to Colonel Forney on Capitol Hill. A.
Lincoln." " Report to Colonel Forney ! " Colonel Forney
who was "bubbling over with resentment against the
Southern leaders who had hindered his advancement when
226 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN".
Buchanan was elected President." But there was no
changing the order, so Mr. McLean dashed off in the next
train to New York, the happiest Democrat in the United
States, and two days after he walked into Colonel For-
ney's office with the " prisoner." General Pryor took the
upper rooms of Colonel Forney's lodgings and was his
guest for more than a week, " during which time he was
visited by all the chivalry, male and female, of the vicinage."
The President enjoyed the fact that Colonel Forney had
such good company, andThaddeus Stephens, his neighbor,
habitually accosted him in the morning with the grim sal-
ute : " How 's your Democratic friend and brother this
morning ? " Colonel Forney had to admit that a more
courteous gentleman he had never met than General Pryor,
and did him the justice to say that he expressed the most
fervent gratitude to Mr. Lincoln for his kindness.
IN November, 1861, the public mind was wildly agi-
tated by an episode of the war, which, although
without military significance, at one time threatened to
predetermine the final issue of the contest in favor of
the independence of the Southern States, by the acces-
sion of a powerful ally and auxiliary to their cause. It
not only seriously imperilled our existing relations of
peace and amity with a foreign power, but came near
converting its declared neutrality into an active sympathy
and co-operation with the Confederacy. This incident,
commonly known as the "Trent" affair, originated in
the unauthorized and illegal arrest of the Confederate
Commissioners, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, with their
secretaries, on board a British mail packet, by Capt.
Charles Wilkes of the United States Navy, and their
forcible transfer from the protection of the British flag to
the frigate " San Jacinto," under Wilkes's command.
This arbitrary proceeding, wholly unauthorized by the
government and in flagrant violation of every principle
of public law, was received with a universal outburst of
joy and exultation throughout the entire country. The
Confederates saw in this wanton aggression and outrage
228 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
the realization of their cherished hopes of an imbroglio
possibly of a war between England and the United
States. The satisfaction evinced in the Northern States
seemed less comprehensible, as the first outgoing block-
ade-runner could easily have supplied substitutes for the
captured and imprisoned Commissioners. Yet for this
act, which was acclaimed and sanctioned by a verdict of
popular approval, indorsed by a special resolution of
thanks in the National Legislature, Captain Wilkes was
commended and congratulated in a letter from the chief
of his Department. In fact, every one seemed to vie
with every one else in weaving a civic chaplet to the
commander of the " San Jacinto " for his lawless deed.
Amidst the wild excitement created by this inter-
national interlude, the President alone maintained an
imperturbable calmness and composure. From the very
first moment he regarded the capture of the Commis-
sioners as unwise and inexpedient. He was heard to say
repeatedly that it would lead to dangerous compli-
cations with England. "Unfortunately," said he, "we
have played into the hands of that wily power, and
placed in their grasp a whip with which to scourge us."
He went on to say further that the " Trent " affair had
occurred at the most inopportune and critical period of
the war, and would greatly tend to its prolongation by
creating a genuine bond of sympathy between England
and the insurgent States.
When interrogated, on one occasion, as to whether it
was not a great humiliation to him to surrender the
\ CABINET COUNSELS. 229
captured Commissioners on the peremptory demand of
John Bull, Mr. Lincoln replied, "Yes, it was the bit-
terest pill I have ever swallowed. There is, however,
this counterbalancing consideration, that England's
triumph will not have a long tenure of life. After our
war is over, I trust and believe successfully to ourselves,
we shall be powerful enough to call her to an account
and settlement for the embarrassment and damage she
has inflicted upon us in our hour of trouble ; and this
reminds me of a story which I think aptly illustrates the
condition of things existing between their government
and ours." He then related the following anecdote :
A sick man in Illinois, the hope of whose recovery
was far from encouraging, was admonished by his friends
present that as probably he had not many hours to live
he should bear malice to none, and before closing his
earthly account should make peace with all his enemies.
Turning his face to the wall and drawing a long sigh, the
invalid was lost for a few moments in deep reflection.
Giving utterance to a deep groan as he mentally enu-
merated the long catalogue of enmities incurred, which
would render the exertion of peace-making a somewhat
prolonged one, he admitted in a feeble voice that he
undoubtedly believed this to be the best course, and
added : " The man whom I hate most cordially of all is
Bill Johnson, and so I guess I '11 begin with him."
Johnson was summoned, and at once repaired to the
bedside of his repentant friend. The latter extended to
him his hand, saying with a meekness that would have
230 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
done honor to Moses, that he wanted to die at peace
with all the world, and to bury all his past enmity. Bill,
who was much inclined to the melting mood, here burst
into tears, making free use of his bandanna, and warmly
returning the pressure of the dying man's hand, solemnly
and impressively assured him of his forgiveness. As the
now reconciled friends were about to separate, in the
expectation of never again seeing each other on earth,
" Stop," exclaimed the penitent invalid to his departing
visitor, who had now reached the door ; "the account is
now square between us, Bill Johnson ; but, see here, if
I should happen to get well, that old grudge stands ! "
In December, about one month after the arrest of the
Confederate Commissioners, when Mr. Lincoln and his
Cabinet were in a state of alarm, fearing a war with
England, Mr. Chase one day came to the President and
told him that Mr. Stanton, who had been attorney-
general under Buchanan, had talked with him on the
subject of this trouble with Great Britain, and had
expressed the opinion that the action of the American
government in arresting Mason and Slidell was legal and
could be sustained by international law. The President
told Mr. Chase that Stanton did not like him, and had
treated him rudely on one occasion ; but that if Mr.
Chase thought Stanton would meet him, he would be
glad to have him do so and give his views on the subject.
In an hour Mr. Chase had Stanton in Mr. Lincoln's
presence. Mr. Lincoln expressed his gratification at
hearing of Mr. Stanton's views, and asked him to repeat
CABINET COUNSELS. 2$l
them. When Mr. Stanton had finished the discussion of
the case, and of the laws bearing thereon, Mr. Lincoln
expressed his thanks, and asked Stanton to put his
opinion in writing, which he promised to do by ten
o'clock the next morning. The opinion was brought at
the appointed time. Mr. Lincoln read it and filed it,
and then said : " Mr. Stanton, this is a time of war,
and you are as much interested in sustaining the govern-
ment as myself or any other man. This is no time to
consider mere party issues. The life of the nation is in
danger. I need the best counsellors around me. I
have every confidence in your judgment, and have con-
cluded to ask you to become one of my counsellors.
The office of the Secretary of War will be vacant, and I
want you to accept the position. Will you do it ? "
Stanton was amazed, and said : " Why, Mr. President,
you take me by surprise ! This is an embarrassing ques-
tion, but if you will give me a day or two to consider, I
will give you an answer." Two days later he called on
the President and signified his intention to accept. On
the 15 th day of January, 1862, the portfolio of Secre-
tary of War was placed in his hands.*
* DENVER, COL., May 23, 1885.
Hon. Wm. A. Wheeler, Malone, N. Y.
MY DEAR SIR, A few days since I had the pleasure of read-
ing your "Recollections of Lincoln" from the Malone (N. Y.)
" Palladium," in which you say : " At the extra session of Congress
in July, 1861, a law was passed authorizing the appointment of
additional paymasters for the Army; " that the President assented
to your request that your life-long friend, Major Sabin, should be
one of the appointees; that, in September following, Mr. Lincoln
232 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
The appointment of Mr. Stanton in Mr. Lincoln's
Cabinet was a great surprise to the country. Those
wrote you saying he had sent the appointment of Mr. Sabin to the
Secretary of War, who would notify him to appear for muster into
the Service. October passed, and no notice came. Then, you
say, a letter written to " Secretary Stanton" failed to bring a
response; that the latter part of November you went to Washing-
ton to attend the regular session of Congress, taking Mr. Sabin
with you. You then say : " The day after my arrival I waited
upon Secretary Stanton," etc. ; you then detail the conversation
had with Mr. Lincoln, and the fact of his making a somewhat
imperative order to the Secretary to make the appointment "at
once." You say, " I called on Mr. Stanton the next morning, who
on its [the letter's or order's] presentation was simply furious."
And after this you speak of what was said and done by "'Mr.
Stanton, the Secretary of War."
Allow me, my dear sir, to assure you that I now entertain, and
always have entertained, for you the most profound respect, and
to express my sincere regret that you were not President instead
of Vice-President of the United States. I therefore venture to hope
that you will pardon me for saying that I am unable to recon-
cile the statements purporting to be made by you, alluded to above,
with the historical fact that Mr. Stanton was not appointed Secre-
tary of War until in January the year following, namely, 1862.
It occurs to me that there must be a mistake made in your paper,
either of dates or of the name of the Secretary of War. I am
certain this irreconcilable statement was not made by you as
was the blunder made by Sir Walter Scott in his " Ivanhoe "
(chap. i.). "The date of this story," as he says, "refers to a
period towards the end of the reign of Richard I." Richard died
in 1199; nevertheless, Sir Walter makes the disguised Wamba
style himself " a poor brother of the Order of St. Francis,"
although the Order of St. Francis was not founded until 1210, and
of course the saintship of the founder had still a later date.
If my recollection serves me correctly, Mr. Stanton, whose
memory is now cherished by the great mass of the Republican
party, at the dates you speak of and refer to was regarded as a
Bourbon of the strictest sect. Up to the time of the capture
of the " Trent," with Mason and Slidell aboard, on the 8th of
November, 1861, if Mr. Stanton had conceived any " change of
CABINET COUNSELS. 233
who were acquainted with the relations existing between
these two men when they were both practising lawyers
heart" and cessation of hostility to the Administration.it never
was publicly manifested. It was something over a month after
this capture that he was consulted by Mr. Lincoln, at the sugges-
tion of Secretary Chase, as an international lawyer concerning the
legality of the capture and arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell,
which was the first interview that was had between Mr. Lincoln
and Mr. Stanton since the commencement of the Administration.
This interview led to Mr. Stanton's appointment as Secretary of
War. Mr. Lincoln had occasion for regret about the "Trent"
capture, but never for the capture of Mr. Stanton.
The immortal Shakespeare, like yourself and others, sometimes
got his dates confused ; for instance, in his " Coriolanus," he says
of C. Marcius, " Thou wast a soldier even to Cato's will," when in
fact Marcius Coriolanus was banished from Rome and died over
two hundred years before Cato was born. Again, his reference in
the same play, of Marcius sitting in state like Alexander: the
latter was not born for a hundred and fifty years after Coriolanus's
death. He also says in "Julius Caesar," "The clock strikes
three," when in truth and in fact there were no striking clocks
until more than eight hundred years after the death of Caesar.
Another inaccuracy is to be found in " King Lear " in regard to
spectacles. Spectacles were not worn until the thirteenth century.
And still another in this immortal writer's statements in his play
of "Macbeth," where he speaks of cannon: cannon were not
invented until 1346, and Macbeth was killed in 1054.
You will pardon me these citations, for they are made in a
spirit of playful illustration, to show how great minds often
become confused about dates.
" What you have said
I have considered ; what you have to say
I will with patience wait to hear."
I read your " Recollections of Lincoln " with great interest, as I
do everything I see written about that most wonderful, interesting,
and unique of all of our public men. I sincerely hope you will
receive this in the same kindly spirit that it is written, prompted
as it is by a curiosity to know how this variance about Mr.
Stanton's official status during the first year of Mr. Lincoln's
234 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
were not only astonished at this appointment, but were
apprehensive that there could not possibly be harmony
Administration can be reconciled. I will regard it as an esteemed
favor if you will drop me a line explaining it.
Your interesting and graphic description of Mr. Lincoln's pardon
of the soldier convicted and condemned for sleeping at his post
interested me very much. I have a curiosity to know whether
this soldier's name was not William Scott ? If Scott was his
name, I have a reason to believe he was the person whom Francis
De Haes Janvier immortalized in verse.
I have the honor to be, very sincerely,
Your humble servant,
WARD H. LAMON.
MALONE, N. Y., June 2, 1885.
Ward H. Lamon, Denver, Col,
MY DEAR SIR, I thank you most sincerely for your letter of
the 23d ultimo, and for the friendly feeling you evince for me.
I am simply mortified at my gross blunder, and can only plead
in mitigation the lapse of more than twenty years since the affairs
alluded to transpired, in which time, aside from having performed
a large amount of hard public and private work, I have experienced
an amount of trouble exceptional to ordinary men, having buried
everyone near tome, father, mother, brothers, and sisters. I
have no one left of nearer kin to me than cousins, and no one to
care for my house except servants. For the last three years I
have been an invalid, confined to my house and for a considerable
portion of the time to my bed: what wonder that "the warder of
the brain " should be sometimes at fault ! The mistake must be one
of time, for the actors in the transaction are too vividly impressed
upon my memory ever to be forgotten until that faculty is wholly
I may be mistaken in the fact that Sabin accompanied me when
I went on for the regular session in December, 1861 ; but so sure
was I of it that before your letter I would have sworn to it. You
have furnished me with a needed caution. It is unpleasant to find
out that years are telling upon us, but it is healthful nevertheless.
And so I may be mistaken as to the time intervening between the
successive stages of the appointment. Sabin is somewhere in the
of action and co-operation between them. There were
perhaps seldom, if ever, two really great men who were
as unlike in all respects as Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Stanton.
They were dissimilar in their habits of life, disposition,
taste, in fact in every particular of the general make-up
of man. But Mr. Lincoln fully appreciated Mr. Stan-
ton's great ability, both as a lawyer and as a Cabinet
counsellor under Mr. Buchanan. The President needed
the ablest counsel he could obtain, and allowed no per-
sonal consideration to influence him in selecting the
right man for the service.
West, and I will endeavor to find his whereabouts and get his
statement of the facts. Brevet Brig.-Genl. Chauncey McKeever,
now Assistant Adjutant-General of the Army, was at the time in
Stanton's office in a confidential capacity, and I think will remem-
ber the transaction.
I do not remember the name of the pardoned soldier. One of
Kellogg's sons lives in the southern part of the State ; I will
endeavor to get the name, and if successful will write you.
Now, my dear sir, mortified as I am, I feel almost compensated
in having drawn from you such an admirable collection of ana-
chronisms of famous literary men of the world. I am greatly
interested in it, and shall take the liberty of showing it to my lite-
rary friends. In your readings have you ever encountered the
" Deathless City," a beautiful poem written by Elizabeth A. Allen ?
I never saw but this single production from her pen. Who was
or is she, and did she write other things ?
My memories of Mr. Lincoln are a source of great pleasure to
me. Many of them recall illustrations just a little " off color."
If you ever come east, I wish you would come across northern
New York and drop in upon me. I should greatly delight to live
over the days of the war with you.
Again thanking you for your letter, and fully reciprocating your
good-will, I am
Very cordially yours,
WM. A. WHEELER.
236 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
In order to make the history of this appointment com-
plete in its personal element, it will be necessary to go
back to the year 1858, when Abraham Lincoln was
practising law in Springfield, Illinois, and Edwin M.
Stanton was at the head of his profession in Cincinnati.
The celebrated McCormick Reaper and Mower case
was before the United States Court in Cincinnati. Mr.
Stanton had been retained as counsel-in-chief on one side
of the case, and to be associated with him were T. D.
Lincoln of Cincinnati, and Abraham Lincoln of Illinois.
When Mr. Lincoln arrived in Cincinnati to attend the
trial, he called upon Mr. Stanton, who treated him in so
impolite and rude a manner that he went to his client and
informed him that he should have to withdraw as his
counsel in the case and stated his reasons therefor. Mr.
Lincoln was entreated to remain in the case, and Mr.
Stanton was seen and was talked to about the matter.
Mr. Lincoln happened to be in a room adjoining where
this conversation occurred, and overheard Mr. Stanton
say that he would not associate with such a d , gawky,
long-armed ape as that ; if he could not have a man who
was a gentleman in appearance associated with him in
the case, he would himself abandon it. When the client
returned, Mr. Lincoln refunded to him the five-hundred
dollar retainer fee, peremptorily declining to keep it. He
then returned to Urbana, Illinois, where court was in
session, and, to explain his unexpected return, related
the fact and his mortification to his associate members
CABINET COUNSELS. 237
of the bar. After this event, Mr. Lincoln never met
Mr. Stanton until the " Trent " affair brought them
together ; yet it is certain that Mr. Lincoln never forgot
the gratuitous insult then cast upon him.
To this day there is a settled belief that at this time
the Administration councils manifested a lack of hearty
co-operation and unity of purpose and sentiment. This
is a mistake, for throughout Mr. Lincoln's Administration
as much harmony as could reasonably be expected ex-
isted between him and his Cabinet ministers. Differ-
ences arose between them at times in regard to minor
considerations of policy, but never to the extent that the
differences were not eventually harmonized, compro-
mised, or accommodated. To be sure, many things
occurred during the fearful war-struggle about which he
and his Cabinet differed in their estimates and conclu-
sions, and Mr. Lincoln thereby was often disappointed
and grieved. As one instance of his disappointment,
may be mentioned his abandonment of a message to
Congress in deference to the opinion and counsel of his
advisers. This occurred directly after his return from
the conference he and Mr. Seward had with Messrs.
Stephens, Campbell, and Hunter at City Point on the
Notwithstanding his hatred of the institution of slavery,
Mr. Lincoln believed that the holder of slaves had a
right of property in them which the government had no
right, legally or morally, to interfere with in the States
unless forced thereto by the necessities of war. He
23& RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
gladly approved the action of Congress in providing for
the payment of compensation for the slaves liberated in
the District of Columbia. The message above referred
to recommended an appropriation of three hundred
million dollars to be apportioned among the several
slave States, in proportion to slave population, as com-
pensation to the owners of liberated slaves in the insur-
gent States, with the condition that the insurgents should
lay down their arms, disband their troops, and return
and renew their allegiance to the United States govern-
ment. Mr. Seward at this time was not present, being
confined to bed by injuries he had received by being
thrown from his carriage. All the other members of the
Cabinet were present, every one of whom opposed the
message. Lincoln then asked : " How long will this
war last?" No reply came. He then answered his
own question, saying : " It will doubtless last one hun-
dred days longer ; we are now spending three million
dollars a day, which rate will aggregate the amount I
propose to appropriate in order to put an end to this ter-
rible blood-shedding." Then with a deep sigh he said,
" Since you are all opposed to me I will not send this
message," and turning round he placed the paper in his
drawer. It is rather a curious coincidence that the war
did last just about a hundred days after Lincoln's re-
markable interview with his Cabinet on this subject.
There is also a prevailing opinion that the Secretary
of War (Stanton) at times arbitrarily refused to obey or
carry out Mr. Lincoln's orders. This is also not true.
CABINET COUNSELS. 239
This opinion is largely based upon Mr. Stanton's refusal of
permits to persons desirous of going through the lines into
insurgent districts. The persons who were disobliged in
this respect were very severe in their comments on Mr.
Stanton's course, which they considered harsh, disoblig-
ing, and sometimes cruel. On refusal of Mr. Stanton to
accommodate in many such cases, Mr. Lincoln was
appealed to, and his invariable reply was : " I cannot
always know whether a permit ought to be granted, and
I want to oblige everybody when I can; and Stanton
and I have an understanding that if I send an order to
him which cannot be consistently granted, he is to re-
fuse it. This he sometimes does." This state of things
caused him to say to a man who complained of Stanton,
" I have not much influence with this Administration,
but I expect to have more with the next."
Not long before the death of Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Stan-
ton tendered his resignation as Secretary of War. His
letter of resignation was couched in the kindest language,
paying a heartfelt tribute to Mr. Lincoln's uniform and
constant friendship, and his faithful devotion to the
country. It stated that the writer had accepted the
position of Secretary of War for the purpose of holding
it only till the war should end, and that now he felt that
his work was completed, and that it was his duty to
resign. Mr. Lincoln was greatly moved by the tone of
the letter, and said : " Mr. Stanton, you have been a
faithful public officer, and it is not for you to say when
you will be no longer needed here." At the President's
240 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
earnest solicitation, the letter of resignation was with-
drawn, and Mr. Stanton continued to occupy the War
Office until after Mr. Lincoln's death.
When Mr. Lincoln submitted his Proclamation of
Emancipation for the consideration of the Cabinet, he
had not conferred with any one about the phraseology
of the instrument. He read the document through,
without a single interruption or comment. They all
concurred in opinion that it was an admirable paper.
Mr. Chase then said : " Mr. President, you have invoked
the considerate judgment of mankind, but you have
not invoked the blessing of Almighty God on your action
in this matter. I believe He has something to do
with this question." Mr. Lincoln then said : " You are
right, Mr. Secretary. I most humbly thank you for that
suggestion; it was an oversight of mine. Do me the
favor of taking a pen and paper and adding what you
would have in conclusion." Mr. Chase wrote seven
words, namely, " and the gracious favor of Almighty
God." Mr. Lincoln then added them to the end of the
last paragraph, which made it read as follows : " And
upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice,
warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I
invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the
gracious favor of Almighty God." n
In referring to the differences of opinion entertained
between Mr. Lincoln and the members of his Cabinet,
it will be observed that in the matter of reconstruction
of the State governments his policy was, according to
CABINET COUNSELS. 24!
his proclamation, that the persons who were authorized
to re-establish such governments were to be " the quali-
fied voters of the respective States before the acts of
secession." Mr. Chase alone of all the Cabinet objected
to this clause of the proclamation, and insisted that it
should be changed so as to read, instead of " qualified
voters," " citizens of the State." But the Attorney-
General in the year 1862 had given an opinion that the
colored men born in the United States were citizens of
the United States ; and if the phrase " one-tenth of the
qualified voters required to re-organize " were changed
to " one-tenth of the citizens," the organization might
have been legally composed entirely of colored men.
Mr. Lincoln was set in his purpose that the restored
governments in the seceded States should be organized
by the "qualified voters" of those States before secession
was attempted, and Mr. Chase had to submit to the
The great caution with which Mr. Lincoln approached
the important subject of elective franchise may be
shown in his letter to Governor Hahn :
WASHINGTON, March 13, 1864.
Hon. Michael Hahn :
MY DEAR SIR, I congratulate you on having fixed your
name in history as the first free-state Governor of Louisiana.
Now, you are about to have a convention, which among
other things will probably define the elective franchise. I
barely suggest for your private consideration, whether some
242 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
of the colored people may not be let in, as, for instance,
the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought
gallantly in our ranks. They would probably help, in some
trying time to come, to keep the jewel of liberty within the
family of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to
the public, but to you alone.
(Signed) A. LINCOLN.
This would seem to show conclusively that Mr. Lin-
coln did not intend to force negro suffrage upon the
people in the rebel States. Doubtless, he desired that
the negroes should have the right of suffrage, but he
expected and hoped that the people would confer the
right of their own will. He knew that if this right were
forced upon them, it could not or would not be exer-
cised in peace. He realized in advance that the ex-
periment of legislative equality was one fraught with
difficulties and dangers, not only to the well-being of the
negro, but to the peace of society. "While I am,"
said he, "in favor of freedom to all of God's human
creatures, with equal political rights under prudential
restrictions, I am not in favor of unlimited social equal-
ity. There are questions arising out of our complica-
tions that trouble me greatly. The question of universal
suffrage to the freedman in his unprepared state is one
of doubtful propriety. I do not oppose the justice of
the measure ; but I do think it is of doubtful political
policy, and may rebound like a boomerang not only on
the Republican party, but upon the freedman himself
and our common country."
CABINET COUNSELS. 243
As the war approached its conclusion, and Mr. Lin-
coln foresaw the inevitable submission of the insurgents,
his mind did not become less seriously affected by the
contemplation of the new responsibilities which would
devolve upon him as Chief Magistrate of the reorganized
and reconstructed nation. His second Inaugural Ad-
dress mirrored his frame of mind to a great extent. He
was oppressed with great care, resulting from a con-
sciousness that changes would occur in the near future
which would impose upon him new and difficult duties,
in which he might possibly find himself in conflict not
only with the men in his own party who already
persistently opposed him, but with many other public
men who had supported his Administration throughout
the existence of the war. There seemed to be no settled
policy for the contemplated new state of things, and few
men thought alike on the subject. There were almost
as many theories as there were distinguished men to
advance them. This state of things devolved the
greater responsibility upon Mr. Lincoln, and he keenly
felt the weight of it.
Upon no occasion, either public or private, did Mr.
Lincoln hesitate to express freely his views and senti-
ments as to the conditions under which he would have
liked the War of the Rebellion to terminate. All that
he desired was that the enemy should cease fighting,
lay down their arms, and return to their homes, their
duties, and their allegiance to their country. He har-
bored no feeling of revenge, no thirst for the blood of
244 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
his erring fellow-countrymen, his highest aspiration
being peace and a restored Union. From what he has
been repeatedly heard to declare, he would gladly have
spared to his vanquished foes the humiliation of a public
surrender if the war could otherwise have been brought
to a close. He fondly hoped for a condition of things
which would render reconstruction and love of country
assured, fixed, and immutable. In discussing the ques-
tion of reconstruction previous to the surrender of Gen-
eral Lee, I have more than once heard him say : " We
cannot hang all these people, even if they were in our
power ; there are too many of them. Think of the con-
sequences of such an act ! Since this government was
established, there have been comparatively few trials or
executions for treason or offences against the State.
This has been eminently a government of loyal citizens."
A distinguished gentleman, an earnest advocate for
punishment of the rebels, once asked him what he in-
tended to do when the moment arrived for him to act.
"Do?" said he; "why, reconstruct the machinery of
this government ! This is all that I see I can properly
do." The gentleman, with much asperity, exclaimed :
" Mr. President, it does appear to some of your friends,
myself included, as if you had taken final leave of your
senses ! As if it were intended that treason should
henceforth not be regarded as odious, and the offenders,
cut-throats, and authors of this war should not only go
unpunished, but receive encouragement to repeat their
outrages on the government with impunity ! They
should be hanged higher than Haman, sir ! "
CABINET COUNSELS. 24$.
Mr. Lincoln here asked : " Mr. , suppose, when
the moment has arrived, the hanging policy you recom-
mend be adopted, will you agree to be chief execu-
tioner? If so, let me know, and I will at once appoint
you a brigadier-general and prospective public hangman
of the United States. Will you serve, if so appointed? "
" Mr. Lincoln," responded his interlocutor, " I sup-
posed you regarded me as a gentleman ; at least you
ought to know better than to ask me to do, or believe
me capable of doing, such dirty work."
" You speak," said Mr. Lincoln, interrupting him, " of
being a gentleman. In this free country of ours, when
it comes to rights and duties, especially in time of war,
the gentleman and the vagrant stand on exactly the
same plane; their rights are equal, their duties the
same. As a law-abiding citizen, you are no more
exempt from the performance of what you call 'dirty
work ' than if you were not a gentleman."
His visitor here arose abruptly and left the room in
great indignation, relieving himself of his pent-up wrath
by a torrent of oaths and imprecations. He was a
United States Senator, and I have not at all exaggerated
his profanity or his deportment on the occasion here
narrated. He did not, indeed, intermit his denuncia-
tions, which were, besides, embellished with the choicest
specimens of billingsgate, until a casual rencontre on the
Avenue with a member of the lower House afforded him
the solace of exclaiming : " Lincoln is a damned idiot !
He has no spirit, and is as weak as an old woman. He
246 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
was never fitted for the position he holds. After this
war is over, it would not at all surprise me if he were to
fill the public offices with a horde of these infernal
rebels, and choose for his constitutional advisers the dam-
nable leaders of the rebellion themselves." I am not
aware that this senator ever again visited the President.
After the capitulation of General Lee, what was to be
done with the leaders of the rebellion became a most
serious question. Persons who had been throughout
the war the fiercest and most radical opponents of the
rebels (such men as Horace Greeley and others) became
suddenly most conservative; and the converse course
was pursued by many of the most conservative persons,
now urging relentless punishment of the offending
leaders. General Grant asked for special instructions
of Mr. Lincoln, whether he should try to capture
Jefferson Davis, or let him escape from the country if he
wanted to do so. Mr. Lincoln replied by relating the
story of an Irishman who had taken the pledge of Father
Matthew, and having become terribly thirsty applied to
a bar-tender for a lemonade ; and while it was being
prepared he whispered to the bar-tender, " And could n't
you put a little brandy in it all unbeknownst to myself? "
Mr. Lincoln told the general he would like to let Jeff
Davis escape all unbeknown to himself: he had no use
On the day of the assassination, General Creswell
came to Washington to see the President in the interest
of an old friend who had been located in the South, and
CABINET COUNSELS. 247
had got into the rebel army, and had been captured by
our troops and imprisoned. He drew an affidavit set-
ting forth what he knew about the man, particularly
mentioning extenuating circumstances which seemed to
entitle him to the generosity or leniency of the govern-
ment. General Creswell found the President very
happy. The Confederacy had collapsed. The scene at
Appomattox had just been enacted. He was greeted
with : " Creswell, old fellow, everything is bright this
morning. The war is over. It has been a tough time,
but we have lived it out, or some of us have," and he
dropped his voice a little on the last clause of the sen-
tence. "But it is over; we are going to have good
times now, and a united country."
After a time, General Creswell told his story, read his
affidavit, and said, " I know the man has acted like a fool,
but he is my -friend, and a good fellow ; let him out, give
him to me, and I will be responsible that he won't have
anything more to do with the rebs."
"Creswell," said Mr. Lincoln, "you make me think
of a lot of young folks who once started out Maying. To
reach their destination, they had to cross a shallow
stream, and did so by means of an old flatboat. When
the time came to return, they found to their dismay that
the old scow had disappeared. They were in sore
trouble, and thought over all manner of devices for
getting over the water, but without avail. After a time,
one of the boys proposed that each fellow should pick
up the girl he liked best and wade over with her. The
248 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
masterly proposition was carried out, until all that were
left upon the island was a little short chap and a great,
long, gothic-built, elderly lady. Now, Creswell, you
are trying to leave me in the same predicament. You
fellows are all getting your own friends out of this scrape ;
and you will succeed in carrying off one after another,
until nobody but Jeff Davis and myself will be left on
the island, and then I won't know what to do. How
should I feel? How should I look, lugging him over?
I guess the way to avoid such an embarrassing situation
is to let them all out at once."
A somewhat similar illustration he made at an informal
Cabinet meeting, at which was being discussed the dis-
position of Jefferson Davis and other prominent Con-
federates. Each member of the Cabinet gave his
opinion ; most of them were for hanging the traitors, or
for some severe punishment. Lincoln said nothing.
Finally, Joshua F. Speed, his old and confidential friend,
who had been invited to the meeting, said, " I have
heard the opinion of your Ministers, and would like to
" Well, Josh," replied Mr. Lincoln, " when I was a
boy in Indiana, I went to a neighbor's house one morn-
ing and found a boy of my own size holding a coon by
a string. I asked him what he had and what he was
doing. He says, ' It 's a coon. Dad cotched six last
night, and killed all but this poor little cuss. Dad told
me to hold him until he came back, and I 'm afraid he 's
going to kill this one too ; and oh, Abe, I do wish he
CABINET COUNSELS. 249
would get away ! ' 'Well, why don't you let him loose?'
' That would n't be right ; and if I let him go, Dad
would give me hell. But if he would get away himself,
it would be all right.' Now," said Mr. Lincoln, " if Jeff
Davis and those other fellows will only get away, it will
be all right. But if we should catch them, and I should
let them go, ' Dad would give me hell.' "
The President of the Southern Confederacy was, how-
ever, afterwards captured and imprisoned at Fortress
Monroe, charged with treason, etc., and at length ad-
mitted to bail, Mr. Horace Greeley, the great Radical
journalist, becoming one of his bondsmen. Mr. Davis
was never brought to trial, and eventually the charges
against him were ignored. He was a prisoner of State
at Fortress Monroe for two years; in the year 1867 he
was released on bail, went to Canada, but subsequently
returned to the State of Mississippi, where he lived in
retirement until his death.
On the night of the 3d of March, 1865, Mr. Lincoln,
with several members of his Cabinet, was in attendance
at the Capitol, awaiting the final passage of bills by Con-
gress, in order that they might receive the Presidential
signature. In the intervals between the reading, con-
sidering, and approving of these bills, the military situa-
tion was freely discussed. Every one appeared to be
happy at the prospect of the early re-establishment of
peace, General Grant having just telegraphed a glowing
account of his successes and his control of the situation,
and expressing the hope that a very few days would find
250 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Richmond in the hands of the national forces and the
army of General Lee disbanded or captured. While the
members were felicitating one another on the approach-
ing cessation of hostilities, a second dispatch from
General Grant was handed to Mr. Stanton, who, having
read it, handed it to the President and became absorbed
in thought. The telegram advised the Secretary of the
receipt of a letter from General Lee, requesting an
immediate interview, with a view to the re- establishment
of peace between the two sections. The dispatch hav-
ing been read by others of the party, Mr. Lincoln's
spirits rose to a height rarely witnessed since the out-
break of the war. All the better and kindlier impulses of
his nature were aroused. The cry, " What is to be done
with the rebels when this cruel war is over? " ceased to
ring in his ears. He was unable to restrain himself from
giving expression to the natural impulses of his heart, or
from foreshadowing the magnanimity with which the
Confederates were now to be treated. He did not hesi-
tate to express himself as favorably disposed towards
granting the most lenient and generous terms to a
Mr. Stanton could now no longer restrain himself; he
was in a towering rage, and turning to the President, his
eyes flashing fire, he exclaimed : " Mr. President, you
are losing sight of the paramount consideration at this
juncture, namely, how and by whom is this war to be
closed ? To-morrow is Inauguration Day ; you will then
enter upon your second term of office. Read again this
CABINET COUNSELS. 2$l
dispatch : don't you appreciate its significance ? If you
are not to be President of an obedient, loyal, and united
people, you ought not to take the oath of office, you
are not a proper person to be empowered with so high
and responsible a trust. Your work is already achieved,
all but reconstruction. If any other authority than
your own be for a moment recognized ; or if terms of
peace be agreed upon that do not emanate from yourself,
and do not imply that you are the supreme head of the
nation, you are not needed. You should not consent
to act in the humiliating capacity of a mere figure-head,
to aid in the acquisition of that fame for others which
rightfully belongs to yourself. By thus doing, you will
scandalize every true friend you possess in the country."
It was now Mr. Lincoln's turn to become thoughtful.
He sat at the table for a few minutes, absorbed in deep
reflection, and then, addressing himself to the Secretary
of War, said : " Stanton, you are right ; this dispatch did
not, at first sight, strike me as I now consider it." Upon
this he took pen and paper and hurriedly wrote the fol-
lowing dispatch, handing it to Stanton, and requesting
him to date, sign, and send it at once. The dispatch
ran as follows :
" The President directs me to say to you that he wishes
you to have no conference with General Lee, unless it be for
the capitulation of Lee's army, or on some minor and purely
military matter. He instructs me to say that you are not to
decide, discuss, or confer on any political questions ; the
President, holding the decision of these questions in his own
hands, will submit them to no military conference or conven-
252 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
tion. In the mean time you are to press, to the utmost of
your ability, your military advantage."
The above dispatch was read, signed, and sent by Mr.
Stanton immediately, without one word of comment,
and soon afterward the entire party left the Capitol for
their respective homes, there to await further develop-
ments. At the same time, the Secretary of War sent
the following telegram to General Grant :
WASHINGTON, March 3, 1865.
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GRANT, I send you a telegram
written by the President himself, in answer to yours of this
evening, which I have signed by his order. I will add that
General Ord's conduct in holding intercourse with General
Longstreet upon political questions not committed to his
charge, is not approved. The same thing was done, in one
instance, by Major Keys, when the army was commanded by
General McClellan, and he was sent to meet Howell Cobb
on the subject of exchanges ; and it was in that instance, as
in this, disapproved. You will please, in future, instruct
officers appointed to meet rebel officers to confine them-
selves to the matters specially committed to them.
(Signed) EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
On the succeeding day a dispatch was received from
General Grant in cipher, of which the following is a
CITY POINT, March 4, 1865.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
Your dispatch of the 3d, midnight, received. I have a
letter to General Lee, copy of which will be sent you by
to-morrow's mail. I can assure you that no act of the
CABINET COUNSELS. 253
enemy will prevent me pressing all advantages gained to the
utmost of my ability. Neither will I, under any circum-
stances, exceed my authority, or in any way embarrass the
government. It was because I had no right to meet General
Lee on the subject proposed by him, that I referred the
matter for instructions.
U. S. GRANT,
CONFLICT BETWEEN CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITY.
THE execution of the Fugitive Slave Law in the
District of Columbia became a question much
discussed in Congress, and was a frightful scandal to the
Radical members. The law remained in force ; and no
attempt was made by Congress to repeal it, or to pro-
vide for the protection of the Executive officers whose
duty it was to enforce it. The subject gave Mr. Lincoln
great concern, but he could see no way out of the diffi-
culty except to have the law executed. The District
had become the asylum of the runaway slaves from the
Border States, particularly from the rebel State of Vir-
ginia and the quasi-loyal State of Maryland. So far as
the State of Virginia was concerned, she was still, accord-
ing to the theory of the Administration, one of the
United States ; and all Congressional laws on the stat-
ute book were enforced in regard to her as well as to
States not in rebellion, which made the question one of
great embarrassment. The Confiscation Act, which gave
liberty to all slaves that had been employed by the
rebels for insurrectionary purposes, had gone into effect
in the month of August, 1861. The military governor
of the District assumed that by virtue of this law all
CONFLICT BETWEEN AUTHORITIES. 2$$
slaves that came into the District from whatever section
had been thus employed, and consequently were free,
and it became his duty to give them military protection
as free persons.
This state of things caused a fearful responsibility to
rest upon the shoulders of the civil executive authorities.
The President gave me private instructions to execute
the laws until Congress modified or repealed them.
" In doing this," Mr. Lincoln said, " you will receive
much adverse criticism and a good deal of downright
abuse from members of Congress. This is certain to
come, but it will be not so much intended for you as for
me ; as our friend Senator Hale, the other day, said in
the Senate, ' We must not strike too high nor too low,
but we must strike between wind and water : the marshal
is the man to hit.' And I say, we shall have to stand it
whatever they send."
Martial law had not been declared; there was not
even a temporary suspension of the civil authority, even
in exceptional cases, in the District of Columbia. It
was conceded by all, that in time of danger the tempo-
rary rule of military authority was virtually necessary to
the preservation of the federal capital ; but at this time
there was no pretence of danger. The civil courts of
the District being in full power for the adjudication of
all cases arising within their jurisdiction, nothing but a
pressing military necessity could give countenance or
pretext for the suspension of the civil law. It was,
therefore, only a question of time and the time soon
256 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
came for a conflict to arise between civil and military
The conflict grew out of an order of the military gov-
ernor to take a female fugitive slave from the custody of
the marshal and deliver her into the hands of the mili-
tary. The deputies to whom the order was shown
declined to obey the command, giving as a reason for
their refusal that she was held under due process of law,
and that they had no authority to give her up without
the order of the court. Military officers, with a strong
guard, then arrested the deputy marshals, seized the jail,
released the slave, and left a military guard in charge of
the captured jail.*
I was temporarily absent at the time of the seizure.
When I returned I arrested the military guard, recap-
tured the jail, liberated the prisoners placed therein by
the military, and held the military guard as prisoners. I
was supported by the police and other civil authorities,
and by the citizens of Washington ; the military gover-
nor was supported by forces under his command,
* WAR DEPARTMENT,
WASHINGTON, D. C., May 22, 1862.
Captain Sherwood, or Officer in Command at Central Guard House:
SIR, You will send a sentinel at once to the city jail, with
orders to relieve the man now on duty there at the jail door, and
give him orders to allow no person whatsoever to enter or leave
the jail, without permission from General Wadsworth. This guard
will be maintained until further orders.
By Command of Brigadier-General Wadsworth,
JOHN A. KRESS,
A. D. C.
CONFLICT BETWEEN AUTHORITIES.
intended for the defence of the city. The matter was
eventually laid before the President. He called to his
aid his Attorney-General, who gave a prompt but decisive
opinion that in the present state of things in the District
of Columbia the civil authority outranked the military ;
and he gave the further opinion that the military gover-
nor's conduct had been misguided and unauthorized,
however philanthropic' might have been his purposes and
This decision on the subject of supremacy of authority
by no means reconciled or put at rest the perturbed,
aggressive spirit in Congress which opposed the Presi-
dent's policy. The enthusiastic adherents of this opposi-
tion made the District jail an objective point in the
furtherance of their ends. They made personal visits to
that institution, and examined all the inmates whose
color was not of orthodox Albino-Anglo American tint.
They would learn the story of their wrongs and injuries,
then straightway proceed to the halls of Congress and
make known their discoveries. Detectives were employed
by them to make daily reports of the " cruelty " shown
to colored inmates of the jail, which reports were soon
dressed up in pathetic and classic language for the occa-
sion. Professional and amateur demagogues made sen-
sational speeches (sometimes written for them by depart-
ment clerks and professional speech- writers), and " Rome
was made to howl " in the halls of the American Con-
gress. " Lincoln and his beastly negro catchers " were
denounced in unmeasured terms.
258 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LflVCOLN.
The jail was now by the necessities of its surroundings
made the receptacle for prisoners of all kinds, civil,
military, and State. Orders from the War Department
were issued to the custodian of the jail to allow no person
whatever to communicate with the military or State
prisoners without an order from the War Department.
The chairman of the District Committee in the Senate,
and certain others of that Committee, claimed the right,
by virtue of their position, to go into the jail and to
examine all the prisoners, in the face of the orders of the
Secretary of War ; and this was repeated almost daily.
The situation became unbearable, and I sent in my
resignation. This, however, was not accepted. The
professional opinion of the Attorney-General was again
invoked by the President, and he gave his views as to
the duties of the custodian of the heterogeneous mass of
prisoners in the jail, which resulted in the request of
the President to the Attorney- General to prepare such an
order as was proper for the marshal to sign, giving notice
of what would be required for admission of visitors to
the jail. The paper was prepared in the Attorney- Gen-
eral's office, signed and sent forth ; and before the close
of the day on which it was signed, resolutions were
passed in Congress declaring the marshal guilty of con-
tempt of that body for having presumed to issue what it
deemed a contemptuous restriction of its rights, and a
committee was appointed to wait upon the President to
demand the instant dismissal of that insolent officer.
The President showed the committee my resignation
CONFLICT BETWEEN AUTHORITIES. 2$Q
already in his hands, and informed them that he would
neither accept the resignation nor dismiss me from office,
and gave his reasons for this action.
After this the opposition became more and more
acrimonious and offensive toward Mr. Lincoln and his
Administration. The leaders of the opposition now
resorted to every means in their power to oppose him
for his want of respect, and for his disobedience to the
behests of the co-ordinate branch of the government,
forgetting that, Congress having made the offensive laws,
it was the President's duty to execute them.
Soon the marshal's office was made the subject of
legislation in Congress, to shear it of its power and reduce
its emoluments. The custody of the jail and prisoners
was soon given to a warden ; and, shortly after, an Act
was passed relieving the marshal from the duties of
attending the Supreme Court of the United States, and
providing a special marshal for that Court, thus leav-
ing the office still one of great responsibility, but without
remuneration commensurate with its duties.
Before the appointment of the warden, the District
court had sentenced three men to be hanged for murder,
on a day subsequent to the change of custody. On the
day set for the execution, I refused to act as the hang-
man. Congress again passed a resolution denouncing
my conduct, and instituted an investigation into the
facts. The facts were that the order of the court was
that the marshal should hang the condemned men, but
Congress had unconsciously relieved him from that pain-
26O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
ful duty ! The warden had no order for their execution,
and could not perform the service with any more pro-
priety than the marshal. The result of this blundering
legislation, superinduced by hasty, factious zeal to injure
an object of their dislike, was that Congress had nullified
the solemn acts of the United States District Court, and
restored to life and liberty and immunity from punish-
ment three miscreants whose lives had been forfeited
and who should have been hanged ! This legislative
jail-delivery was a source of great annoyance and of
some amusement to Mr. Lincoln. In speaking of cer-
tain members of Congress and the part they had taken
in this and other petty acts, he said : " I have great
sympathy for these men, because of their temper and
their weakness ; but I am thankful that the good Lord
has given to the vicious ox short horns, for if their physi-
cal courage were equal to their vicious dispositions, some
of us in this neck of the woods would get hurt."
The opposition was continued to the last, and Mr.
Lincoln adhered to his policy to the end. But he was
so outraged by the obloquy thrown upon his worthiest
official acts, so stung by the disparagement with which
his purest and most patriotic motives were impugned,
his existence, in a word, was rendered so unhappy by
the personal as well as political attacks of those for
whose sympathy and support he might naturally have
urged the most logical and valid plea, that life became
almost a burden to him.
As illustrative of the amenities of language with which,
CONFLICT BETWEEN AUTHORITIES. 26 1
at this epoch of his life, the Chief Magistrate of our
Republic was habitually characterized, it will suffice to
adduce such an expression as this, " That hideous
baboon at the other end of the Avenue, whom Barnum
should exhibit as a zoological curiosity." Mr. Lincoln's
existence was so cruelly embittered by these and other
expressions quite as virulent, that I have often heard him
declare, "I would rather be dead than, as President,
thus abused in the house of my friends."
In the summer of 1861, shortly after the inglorious
repulse of the Union army at Bull Run, Rev. Robert
Collyer, the eminent divine, was on a visit to the
federal capital. Participating in the prevailing senti-
ment in regard to the incapacity or inefficiency of the
general government in the conduct of military affairs,
he chanced to pass through the White House grounds
on his way to the War Department Casting a cursory
glance at the Executive Mansion as he passed, his
attention was suddenly arrested by the apparition of
three pairs of feet, resting on the ledge of an open win-
dow, in one of the apartments of the second story, and
plainly visible from below. The reverend gentleman
paused, calmly surveyed the grotesque spectacle, and
mentally addressed to himself the inquiry whether the
feet, and boots belonging to them, were the property of
officers of the Executive government, at the same time
thinking that if not, they would have proved sturdy ped-
estals to the bearers of muskets upon the recent battle-
field. Resuming his walk, he accosted a rustic employee
262 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
whom he found at work about the grounds, and pointing
to the window, with its incongruous adjuncts, he re-
quested of the man what that meant. " Why, you old
fool," replied the rustic, " that 's the Cabinet that is a
settin' ; and them thar big feet 's old Abe's."
Some time after, in referring to this experience of his
visit to the national capital in a lecture at Boston, the
reverend gentleman commented on the imbecility of the
government, and satirically added: "That's about all
they are good for in Washington, to project their feet
out of windows and jabber away ; but they go nowhere,
and accomplish nothing." But he subsequently, on
more than one occasion, rendered full justice to the
President's able and zealous discharge of his high trust,
saying : " I abused poor Lincoln, like the fool that the
rustic called me, while his heart was even then breaking
with the anxieties and responsibilities of his position."
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION.
THE fact that we have in this country a literature of
assassination, " voluminous and vast," suggests a
melancholy reflection on the disordered spirit of the
times through which we have passed, and on the woful
perversity of human nature even under conditions most
favorable to intellectual progress and Christian civiliza-
tion. It is hurtful to our pride as Americans to confess
that our history is marred by records so repugnant to the
spirit of our liberal institutions, and to the good fellow-
ship which ought to characterize both individual and
national life in a free republic. But the appalling fact
remains that two of our Chief Magistrates, within as
many decades, were murdered in cold blood, and that
bulky volumes have been filled with circumstantial ac-
counts of plots and conspiracies by and against men
born upon our soil and enjoying the full protection of
our laws ; and yet, voluminous and extensive as these
records are, they are by no means complete.
One most daring attempt upon the life of Mr. Lincoln
the boldest of all attempts of that character, and one
which approached shockingly near to a murderous suc-
cess was never made public. For prudential reasons
264 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
details were withheld from the press ; but as the motives
which imposed silence respecting a strange freak of
homicidal frenzy no longer exist, it is perhaps a matter
of duty to make public the story, together with certain
documents which show in what deadly peril Mr. Lincoln
stood during the ceremonies attending his second inau-
guration at the Capitol in March, 1865. A glance at
prior conspiracies will lead to a better understanding of
the event to which these documents relate.
The first conspiracy, from motives of policy, had for
its object the abduction of President Buchanan. There
was intense disgust on the part of certain fiery and fero-
cious leaders in the secession movement with the con-
servative temper of the Executive and of the ruling
members of his Cabinet. After fruitless attempts to
bully the Administration into a change of policy in har-
mony with his revolutionary scheme, Mr. Wigfall, some
time in the month of December, 1860, formed a plan
for kidnapping Mr. Buchanan. A number of desperate
men were banded together by him at Washington, and
the details of the plot were discussed and agreed upon.
The plan was to spirit Mr. Buchanan away, install Mr.
Breckenridge in the White House, and hold the captive
President as a hostage until terms of compromise could
be proposed to conservative Democrats and Republicans
in the North. Mr. Wigfall and other choice spirits had
no doubt that their plan of accommodation could be
enforced through the ad interim Executive. The
scheme, however, could not be executed, in its first
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 26$
stage, without the concurrence and co-operation of Mr.
Floyd, who threw Wigfall into a paroxysm of explosive
wrath by flatly refusing to have anything to do with the
enterprise. It was accordingly abandoned, so far as Mr.
Buchanan was concerned.
When Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated, in March, 1861,
the organization of plotters was still intact ; but no plan
of assassination had, as yet, received the sanction of the
conspirators as a body. It was their purpose to kidnap
Mr. Lincoln and hold him in captivity, without injury to
his person, until such concessions were made to the
Southern leaders as their plan of compromise rendered
necessary. This second scheme of abduction, having
proved as abortive as the first, was abandoned in favor of
a more deadly purpose. Some of the more desperate
among the conspirators, exasperated by repeated failures,
resolved to dispose of Mr. Lincoln by the swifter and
surer means afforded by the dagger or the bullet.
Circumstances, in a surprising way, seemed to favor
their murderous designs. Against the protest of his
friends, who by detective means had obtained from the
plotters many of their secrets, Mr. Lincoln made the
Soldiers' Home his summer residence. The conspirators
thought that either abduction or assassination could be
accomplished without difficulty. They resolved upon
the latter. They would dispatch him during one of his
lonely rides after nightfall from the White House to his
summer retreat. The attempt was made.
In the spring and early summer of 1862 I persistently
266 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
urged upon Mr. Lincoln the necessity of a military escort
to accompany him to and from his residence and place
of business, and he as persistently opposed my proposi-
tion, always saying, when the subject was referred to,
that there was not the slightest occasion for such pre-
caution. One morning, however, in the month of
August he came riding up to the White House steps,
where I met him, with a merry twinkle in his eye that
presaged fun of some kind. Before he alighted he said,
" I have something to tell you ! " and after we had
entered his office he locked the doors, sat down, and
commenced his narration. (At this distance of time I
will not pretend to give the exact words of this interview,
but will state it according to my best recollection.) He
said : " You know I have always told you I thought you
an idiot that ought to be put in a strait jacket for your
apprehensions of my personal danger from assassination.
You also know that the way we skulked into this city, in
the first place, has been a source of shame and regret to
me, for it did look so cowardly ! "
To all of which I simply assented, saying, " Yes, go
"Well," said he, "I don't now propose to make you
my father-confessor and acknowledge a change of heart,
yet I am free to admit that just now I don't know what
to think : I am staggered. Understand me, I do not.
want to oppose my pride of opinion against light and
reason, but I am in such a state of ' betweenity ' in my
conclusions that I can't say that the judgment of this
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 267
court is prepared to proclaim a reliable ' decision upon
the facts presented.' '"
He paused ; I requested him to go on, for I was in
painful suspense. He then proceeded.
" Last night, about 1 1 o'clock, I went out to the
Soldiers' Home alone, riding Old Abe, as you call him [a
horse he delighted in riding], and when I arrived at the
foot of the hill on the road leading to the entrance of
the Home grounds, I was jogging along at a slow gait,
immersed in deep thought, contemplating what was next
to happen in the unsettled state of affairs, when suddenly
I was aroused I may say the arousement lifted me out
of my saddle as well as out of my wits by the report
of a rifle, and seemingly the gunner was not fifty yards
from where my contemplations ended and my acceler-
ated transit began. My erratic namesake, with little
warning, gave proof of decided dissatisfaction at the
racket, and with one reckless bound he unceremoniously
separated me from my eight- dollar plug-hat, with which
I parted company without any assent, expressed or im-
plied, upon my part. At a break-neck speed we soon
arrived in a haven of safety. Meanwhile I was left in
doubt whether death was more desirable from being
thrown from a runaway federal horse, or as the tragic
result of a rifle-ball fired by a disloyal bushwhacker in
the middle of the night."
This was all told in a spirit of levity; he seemed
unwilling, even in appearance, to attach that importance
to the event which I was disposed to give to it. He
268 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
seemed to want to believe it a joke. " Now," said he,
" in the face of this testimony in favor of your theory of
danger to me, personally, I can't bring myself to believe
that any one has shot or will deliberately shoot at me
with the purpose of killing me ; although I must acknowl-
edge that I heard this fellow's bullet whistle at an
uncomfortably short distance from these headquarters of
mine. I have about concluded that the shot was the
result of accident. It may be that some one on his
return from a day's hunt, regardless of the course of his
discharge, fired off his gun as a precautionary measure of
safety to his family after reaching his house." This was
said with much seriousness.
He then playfully proceeded : " I tell you there is no
time on record equal to that made by the two Old Abes
on that occasion. The historic ride of John Gilpin, and
Henry Wilson's memorable display of bareback eques-
trianship on the stray army mule from the scenes of the
battle of Bull Run, a year ago, are nothing in comparison
to mine, either in point of time made or in ludicrous
pageantry. My only advantage over these worthies was
in having no observers. I can truthfully say that one of
the Abes was frightened on this occasion, but modesty
forbids my mentioning which of us is entitled to that
distinguished honor. This whole thing seems farcical.
No good can result at this time from giving it publicity.
It does seem to me that I am in more danger from the
augmentation of imaginary peril than from a judicious
silence, be the danger ever so great ; and, moreover, I
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 269
do not want it understood that I share your apprehen-
sions. I never have."
At this time Mr. Lincoln was to me a study. It
would seem that he was always prepared for the inevit-
able, and singularly indifferent as to his personal safety.
He was then still suffering from his terrible domestic
affliction, the death of his favorite son Willie. He
doubtless at times acted an unnatural part in his endeavors
to banish from his memory the disturbing recollections
of his lost idol. I often recur with mingled feelings of
admiration and sadness to the wonderful simplicity and
perfect faith exemplified in his narration of the hazardous
experience above described. He said : " I am deter-
mined to borrow no trouble. I believe in the right, and
that it will ultimately prevail; and I believe it is the
inalienable right of man, unimpaired even by this dread-
ful distraction of our country, to be happy or miserable
at his own election, and I for one make choice of the
" Yes," said I, " but it is a devil of a poor protection
against a shot-gun in time of war ; for that fellow on the
road-side last night was just such a philosopher as your-
self, although acting from a different standpoint. He
exercised one of his supposed inalienable rights to make
himself happy and the country miserable by attempting
to kill you ; and unless you are more careful and discreet,
and will be governed by wiser counsels than you derive
from your own obstinate persistency in recklessness, in
less than a week you '11 have neither inalienable nor any
270 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
other rights, and we shall have no Lincoln. The time,
I fear, may not be far distant when this republic will be
minus a pretty respectable President."
It was impossible, however, to induce him to forego
these lonely and dangerous journeys between the Execu-
tive Mansion and the Soldiers' Home. A stranger to
fear, he often eluded our vigilance; and before his
absence could be noted he would be well on his way to
his summer residence, alone, and many times at night.
Another occasion when the vigilance and anxiety of
his friends were exercised will appear in the following
extract from a memorandum written by Robert Lamon,
who was deputy marshal of the District of Columbia at
the time :
In the early part of the night my brother came to me and
asked me to join him'in the search for Mr. Lincoln. He was
greatly disturbed. We drove rapidly to the Soldiers' Home,
and as we neared the entrance to the grounds we met a car-
riage. Behind it we could see in the darkness a man on
horseback. My brother, who seemed unusually suspicious,
commanded the party to halt. His order was instantly
obeyed. " Who are you ? " he demanded, in the same per-
emptory tone. A voice from within the carriage responded,
" Why do you ask ? " The speakers recognized each other.
The one in the carriage was Secretary Stanton, and the man
behind it was one of his orderlies. " Where is Mr. Lincoln ? "
asked Stanton. " I have been to the Soldiers' Home and he
is not there. I am exceedingly uneasy about him. He is not
at the White House ? " " No," said my brother, " he is not
there. I have looked for him everywhere." We hurried back
to the city. Arriving at the White House before Mr. Stan-
ton, we found Mr. Lincoln walking across the lawn. My
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 2/1
brother went with him to the War Department, and from
there took him to his [Lamon's] house, where Mr. Lincoln
slept that night and the three or four nights following, Mrs.
Lincoln being at that time in New York.
(Signed) ROBT. LAMON.
My anxiety about Mr. Lincoln that evening grew out
of a report of an alarming character made to me by one
of my detectives. Stanton had threatening news also,
and was therefore excited about Mr. Lincoln's safety.
He told me that he never had so great a scare in his life
as he had that night. The brusque Secretary thought
the deputy marshal and I were assassins. The incident
provoked much merriment among the parties concerned,
no one enjoying the serio-comic part of it more than
Mr. Lincoln himself.
Meanwhile the conspirators, becoming alarmed for
their own safety, observed a stricter caution. Their
movements were embarrassed by the escort of cavalry
which Mr. Lincoln was finally induced to accept, after
prolonged importunities by those who had certain knowl-
edge of the dangers to which he was exposed. Lost
opportunities, baffled hopes, exasperating defeats, served
however only to heighten the deadly determination of
the plotters ; and so matters drifted on until the day of
Mr. Lincoln's second inauguration. A tragedy was
planned for that day which has no parallel in the history
of criminal audacity, if considered as nothing more than
a crime intended.
Everybody knows what throngs assemble at the Capi-
272 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
tol to witness the imposing ceremonies attending the
inauguration of a President of the United States. It is
amazing that any human being could have seriously
entertained the thought of assassinating Mr. Lincoln in
the presence of such a concourse of citizens. And yet
there was such a man in the assemblage. He was there
for the single purpose of murdering the illustrious leader
who for the second time was about to assume the burden
of the Presidency. That man was John Wilkes Booth.
Proof of his identity, and a detailed account of his move-
ments while attempting to reach the platform where Mr.
Lincoln stood, will be found in many affidavits, of which
the following is a specimen :
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ) sff
COUNTY OF WASHINGTON, >
Robert Strong, a citizen of said County and District,
being duly sworn, says that he was a policeman at the Capi-
tol on the day of the second inauguration of President Lin-
coln, and was stationed at the east door of the rotunda, with
Commissioner B. B. French, at the time the President, ac-
companied by the judges and others, passed out to the plat-
form where the ceremonies of inauguration were about to
begin, when a man in a very determined and excited manner
broke through the line of policemen which had been formed
to keep the crowd out. Lieutenant Westfall immediately
seized the stranger, and a considerable scuffle ensued. The
stranger seemed determined to get to the platform where the
President and his party were, but Lieutenant Westfall called
for assistance. The Commissioner closed the door, or had
it closed, and the intruder was finally thrust from the passage
leading to the platform which was reserved for the Presi-
dent's party. After the President was assassinated, the
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 273
singular conduct of this stranger on that day was frequently
talked of by the policemen who observed it. Lieutenant
Westfall procured a photograph of the assassin Booth soon
after the death of the President, and showed it to Commis-
sioner French in my presence and in the presence of several
other policemen, and asked him if he had ever met that man.
The commissioner examined it attentively and said : " Yes,
I would know that face among ten thousand. That is the
man you had a scuffle with on inauguration day. That is
the same man." Affiant also recognized the photograph.
Lieutenant Westfall then said : " This is the picture of J.
Wilkes Booth." Major French exclaimed : " My God ! what
a fearful risk we ran that day ! "
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 2oth day of
JAMES A. TAIT,
[SEAL] Notary Public.
From this sworn statement it will be seen that Booth's
plan was one of phenomenal audacity. So frenzied was
the homicide that he determined to take the President's
life at the inevitable sacrifice of his own; for nothing
can be more certain than that the murder of Mr. Lincoln
on that public occasion, in the presence of a vast con-
course of admiring citizens, would have been instantly
avenged. The infuriated populace would have torn the
assassin to pieces, and this the desperate man doubtless
It is a curious fact, that, although Mr. Lincoln believed
that his career would be cut short by violence, he was
incorrigibly skeptical as to the agency in the expected
tragedy, with one solitary exception. Elderly residents
2/4 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
of Washington will remember one Garowski, a Polish
exile, as many believed. He was an accomplished lin-
guist, a revolutionist by nature, restless, revengeful, and
of a fiery and ungovernable temper. He had been
employed in the State Department as a translator, I
believe, but had quarrelled with Mr. Seward and was
discharged. This caused him to pursue Lincoln, Seward,
and Sumner with bitter hatred. The curious will find
in a published diary of his a fantastic classification of
his enemies. The President he rated as " third-class,"
according to his estimate of statesmanlike qualities.
From this man Gurowski, and from him alone, Mr.
Lincoln really apprehended danger by a violent assault,
although he knew not what the sense of fear was like.
Mr. Lincoln more than once said to me : " So far as my
personal safety is concerned, Gurowski is the only man
who has given me a serious thought of a personal nature.
From the known disposition of the man, he is dangerous
wherever he may be. I have sometimes thought that he
might try to take my life. It would be just like him to
do such a thing."
The following letter was written one night when I was
much annoyed at what seemed to me Mr. Lincoln's
carelessness in this matter :
WASHINGTON, D. C.
Dec. 10, 1864, 1.30 o'clock, A. M.
Hon. A. Lincoln:
SIR, I regret that you do not appreciate what I have
repeatedly said to you in regard to the proper police arrange-
ments connected with your household and your own personal
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 2?$
safety. You are in danger. I have nothing to ask, and I
flatter myself that you will at least believe that I am honest.
If, however, you have been impressed differently, do me and
the country the justice to dispose at once of all suspected
officers, and accept my resignation of the marshalship, which
is hereby tendered. I will give you further reasons which
have impelled me to this course. To-night, as you have
done on several previous occasions, you went unattended to
the theatre. When I say unattended, I mean that you went
alone with Charles Sumner and a foreign minister, neither of
whom could defend himself against an assault from any able-
bodied woman in this city. And you know, or ought to
know, that your life is sought after, and will be taken unless
you and your friends are cautious ; for you have many ene-
mies within our lines. You certainly know that I have pro-
vided men at your mansion to perform all necessary police
duty, and I am always ready myself to perform any duty
that will properly conduce to your interest or your safety.
God knows that I am unselfish in this matter ; and I do
think that I have played low comedy long enough, and at my
time of life I think I ought at least to attempt to play star
I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant,
WARD H. LAMON.
Mr. Lincoln had in his great heart no place for un-
charitableness or suspicion ; which accounts for his
singular indifference to the numberless cautions so earn-
estly and persistently pressed upon him by friends who
knew the danger to which he was hourly exposed. He
had a sublime faith in human nature ; and in that faith
he lived until the fatal moment when the nations of the
276 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
earth were startled by a tragedy whose mournful conse-
quences no man can measure.
An unwonted interest attaches to the assassination of
Mr. Lincoln, not alone from the peculiarly dramatic
incidents by which it was attended, but also from the
controlling influence he would unquestionably have ex-
erted, if his life had been spared, in modifying and
facilitating the solution of perhaps the greatest social
and political problem of modern times. This problem,
after being committed to the solemn arbitrament of the
sword, and passing through its ordeal, had now reached
an ulterior stage of development which demanded, in
the council chamber, the exercise of even higher admin-
istrative qualities than those which had hitherto directed
its general conduct in the field. These attributes, it was
generally recognized and conceded, were possessed by
Mr. Lincoln in a pre-eminent degree. To a constancy
of purpose and tenacity of will, of which conspicuous
evidence had been presented in the final triumph of the
Union cause, he united a conciliatory disposition, and
the gentleness, sensibility, and simplicity of a child.
Frequent reference has already been made to the
humane and generous promptings of Mr. Lincoln's great
soul, in all the varied relations of his life, as well private
as official, and to instances of patriotism and of self-sacri-
fice almost unparalleled in the annals of history.
With a more enlarged experience of the violence of
party passion and of internecine strife, and of the ex-
cesses to which they sometimes unhappily lead, it seems
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 2"JJ
almost incredible that the apprehensions of danger to
Mr. Lincoln should have been shared by so few, when
one thinks of the simplicity of his domestic habits, the
facilities at all times afforded for a near approach to his
presence, and the entire absence of all safeguards for the
protection of his person, save the watchfulness of one or
two of his most immediate friends ; and this, too, at a
period of such unprecedented party excitement and sec-
tional strife and animosity. But the truth is, the crime
of assassination was so abhorrent to the genius of Anglo-
Saxon civilization, so foreign to the spirit and practice of
our republican institutions, that little danger was appre-
hended of an outrage against society at large, the recol-
lection of which even now suffices to tinge with a blush
of shame the cheek of every true American, whether of
Northern or of Southern birth.
In 1880, after the nomination of General Garfield for
President, General Grant visited Boulder, Col., where I
was at that time residing. We had a long conversation
on the assassination of Mr. Lincoln ; and he told me that
about the period of the surrender of General Lee no sub-
ject gave him deeper concern than the personal safety of
the President. He stated that while no special cause ex-
isted for this apprehension, as the war was manifestly and
inevitably drawing to a conclusion, he had been harassed
by almost constant fears and anxieties for Mr. Lincoln's
life. " I learned," said he, " that your own apprehen-
sions were excited from the very outbreak of the war ; in
fact, before war was declared. It seems unaccountable to
2/8 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
me now, in reviewing the situation, that more persons
were not so impressed. I was aware, during all the
latter part of the war, of your own fears, and of what
you had done and were doing for his safety and
I read a communication addressed to the " St. Louis
Democrat," in July, 1886, by Mr. R. C. Laverty, Gene-
ral Grant's telegraph operator, in which he states that at
the time of the surrender, " General Grant reported
every day regularly to Washington, and was in constant
communication at that time with the capital, because he
was extremely anxious about the personal safety of the
Upon the assassination of Mr. Lincoln being com-
municated to General Grant he exclaimed : " This is
the darkest day of my life ! I do not know what it
means. Here was the Rebellion put down in the field,
and it is reasserting itself in the gutter. We had fought
it as war, we have now to fight it as murder." Con-
tinuing his observations he said : " I was busy sending
off orders to stop recruiting and the purchase of supplies,
and to muster out the army. Mr. Lincoln had promised
to go to the theatre that evening and wanted me to
accompany him. While I was with the President a note
was received by me from Mrs. Grant, saying that she
was desirous of leaving Washington on the same evening
on a visit to her daughter at Burlington. Some inci-
dents of a trivial character had influenced this determi-
nation, and she decided to leave by an evening train. I
PLO7'S AND ASSASSINATION.
was not disinclined to meet her wishes, not caring par-
ticularly to go to the theatre. I therefore made my
excuses to the President, and at the hour determined
upon we left home for the railway station. As we were
driving along Pennsylvania Avenue, a horseman rode
rapidly past us at a gallop, and wheeling his horse, rode
back, peering into our carriage as he again passed us.
Mrs. Grant, with a perceptible shade of concern in her
voice and manner, remarked to me : ' That is the very
man who sat near us at lunch to-day with some others,
and tried to overhear our conversation. He was so
rude, you remember, as to causs us to leave the dining-
room. Here he is again, riding after us ! ' For myself
I thought it was only idle curiosity, but learned afterward
that the horseman was Booth. It seemed that I was also
to have been attacked, and Mrs. Grant's sudden deter-
mination to leave Washington deranged the plan. Only
a few days afterwards I received an anonymous letter
stating that the writer had been detailed to assassinate
me ; that he rode in my train as far as Havre de Grace,
and as my car was locked he failed to get in. He now
thanked God he had so failed. I remember very well
that the conductor locked our car door ; but how far the
letter was genuine I am unable to say. I was advised of
the assassination of Mr. Lincoln in passing through Phila-
delphia, and immediately returned to Washington by a
When the dreadful tragedy occurred I was out of the
city, having gone to Richmond two days before on busi-
28O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
ness for Mr. Lincoln connected with the call of a con-
vention for reconstruction, about which there had arisen
some complications. I have preserved the pass Mr.
Lincoln gave me to go through to Richmond, of which
the following is a fac-simile : u
yft ' sr
This was perhaps the last passport ever written 01
authorized by Abraham Lincoln.
On the eve of my departure I urged upon Mr. Usher,
the Secretary of the Interior, to persuade Mr. Lincoln to
exercise extreme caution, and to go out as little as pos-
sible while I was absent. Mr. Usher went with me to
see Mr. Lincoln ; and when about to leave, I asked him
if he would make me a promise. He asked what it was,
and said that he thought he could venture to say he
would. I wanted him to promise me that he would not
go out after night while I was gone, particularly to the
theatre. He turned to Mr. Usher and said :
" Usher, this boy is a monomaniac on the subject of
my safety. I can hear him or hear of his being around,
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 28 1
at all times of the night, to prevent somebody from mur-
dering me. He thinks I shall be killed ; and we think
he is going crazy." He then added : "What does any
one want to assassinate me for ? If any one wants to do
so, he can do it any day or night, if he is ready to give
his life for mine. It is nonsense."
Mr. Usher then said : " Mr. Lincoln, it is well to
listen and give heed to Lamon. He is thrown among
people that give him opportunities to know more about
such matters than we can know."
I then renewed my request, standing with my hat in
my hand, ready to start.
" Well," said Mr. Lincoln, " I promise to do the best
I can towards it." He then shook me cordially by the
hand, and said, " Good-bye. God bless you, Hill ! "
This was the last time I ever saw my friend.
"IV /PR. LINCOLN, accompanied by his wife, Miss Har-
ris and Maj. Rathbone, of Albany, New York, was
occupying a box at Ford's Theatre, in the city of Wash-
ington. The play was " Our American Cousin/' with the
elder Sothern in the principal role. Mr. Lincoln was en-
joying it greatly. Lee had surrendered on the pth ; on
the i3th the war was everywhere regarded as ended,
and upon that day Secretary Stanton had telegraphed to
Gen. Dix, Governor of New York, requesting him to
stop the draft. Sothern as Lord Dundreary was at his
best. Lincoln was delighted. The lines which care and
responsibility had so deeply graven on his brow, were
now scarcely'visible. His people had just passed through
the greatest civil war known in the history of nations and
he had become well convinced that now, the cause of
strife being destroyed, the government over which he
was ruling would be made stronger, greater and better
by the crucial test through which it has passed. Before
leaving for the theatre he had pronounced it the hap-
piest day of his life. He looked, indeed, as if he now
fully realized the consummation of the long cherished and
fondest aspiration of his heart. He was at length the
undisputed Chief Magistrate of a confederation of States,
Head of Funeral Train ;
" Funeral Car that carried Mr. Lincoln's Remains to Springfield"
"Springfield, May 4th, 1865"
PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 283
constituting the freest and most powerful commonwealth
of modern times.
At some part of the performance Sothern appeared on
the stage with Miss Meridith, the heroine, on one arm
and a wrap or shawl carelessly thrown over the other.
The latter seats herself upon a garden lounge placed on
the stage near the box occupied by the President on this
occasion. Lord Dundreary retires a few paces distant
from the rustic seat when Miss Meridith, glancing lan-
guidly at his lordship, exclaims : " Me lord, will you
kindly throw my shawl over my shoulders there appears
to be a draught here." Sothern, at once complying with
her request, advanced with the mincing step that immor-
talized him ; and with a merry twinkle of the eye, and a
significant glance directed at Mr. Lincoln, responded in
the happy impromptu : " You are mistaken, Miss Mary,
the draft has already been stopped by order of the Presi-
dent ! " This sally caused Mr. Lincoln to laugh, as few
except himself could laugh, and an outburst of merriment
resounded from all parts of the house. It was Mr. Lin-
coln's last laugh!
Note i. Page 20, line 21, after the word " war."
Mr. Lincoln did not think money for its own sake a fit
object of any man's ambition.
Note 2. Page 24, line 2, after the word " Mexico."
In a speech delivered in the House July 27, 1848, on
General Politics, Mr. Lincoln said : " The declaration that we
(the Whigs) have always opposed the Mexican War is true
or false accordingly as one may understand the term ' op-
posing the war.' If to say ' the war was unnecessarily and
unconstitutionally commenced by the President ' be oppos-
ing the war, then the Whigs have very generally opposed it.
Whenever they have spoken at all, they have said this ;
and they said it on what appeared good reasons to them :
the marching an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican
settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their
growing crops and other property to destruction to you may
appear a perfectly amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure,
but it does not appear so to us. So to call such an act to us
appears no other than a naked, impudent absurdity, and we
speak of it accordingly. But if, when the war had begun
and had become the cause of the country, the giving of our
money and our blood, in common with yours, was support of
the war, then it is not true that we have always opposed the
On another occasion Mr. Lincoln said that the claim that
the Mexican War was not aggressive reminded him of the
farmer who asserted, " I ain't greedy 'bout land, I only just
wants what jines mine."
286 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Note 3. Page 27, line 19, after the word " possession."
Mr. Lincoln felt deeply the responsibility of his great
trust; and he felt still more keenly the supposed impossibil-
ity of administering the government for the sole benefit of
an organization, which had no existence in one-half of the
Union. He was therefore willing, not only to appoint Demo-
crats to office, but to appoint them to the very highest offices
within his gift. At this time he thought very highly of Mr.
Stephens of Georgia, and would gladly have taken him into
his cabinet but for the fear that Georgia might secede, and
take Mr. Stephens along with her. He commissioned
Thurlow Weed to place a seat in the Cabinet at the disposal
of Mr. Gilmore of North Carolina ; but Mr. Gilmore, finding
that his state was likely to secede, was reluctantly compelled
to decline it. I had thought that Mr. Lincoln had author-
ized his friend Mr. Speed to offer the Treasury Department
to Mr. Guthrie of Kentucky. Mr. Speed writes of this in-
cident in a letter to me dated June 24, 1872.
In one instance I find a palpable mistake. It is in regard to
a tender to Mr. Guthrie through me of a position in his Cabinet
The history of that transaction was about this : I met Mr. Lincoln
by appointment in Chicago after his election but before he had
gone to Washington. He seemed very anxious to avoid blood-
shed and said that he would do almost anything saving the sacri-
fice of personal honor and the dignity of the position to which he
had been elevated to avoid war.
He asked about Mr. Guthrie and spoke of him as a suitable
man for Secretary of War. He asked very particularly as to his
strength with the people and if I knew him well enough to say
what would be his course in the event of war. I frankly gave my
opinion as to what I thought would be his course which is not
necessary here to repeat. He requested me to see Mr. Guthrie.
But by all means to be guarded and not to give any man the
advantage of the tender of a Cabinet appointment to be declined
by an insulting letter. I did see Mr. Guthrie and never tendered
him any office for I was not authorized to do so. This is a very
different thing from being authorized to tender an appointment.
J. F. SPF.FD.
When Mr. Lincoln was asked during conferences incident
to making up his cabinet if it was just or wise to concede
so many seats to the Democratic element of the Republican
party he replied that as a Whig he thought he could afford
to be liberal to a section of the Republican party without
whose votes he could not have been elected.
Note 4. Page 49, line 5, after the word " fealty."
When Mr. Lincoln was being importuned to appoint to
his Cabinet another man from Maryland rather than Mr.
Blair, he said laughingly: "Maryland must, I think, be a
good State to move from," and then told a story of a witness
who on being asked his age replied, " Sixty." Being satis-
fied that he was much older, the judge repeated the question,
and on receiving the same answer, admonished the witness,
saying that the Court knew him to be much older than sixty.
" Oh," said the witness, "you're thinking about that fifteen
years that I lived down on eastern shore of Maryland ; that
was so much lost time and don't count."
Note 5. Page 78, line 7, after the word " brute."
That neither section had the monopoly of all the vir-
tues reminds us of the conversation between General Butler
and a gentleman from Georgia in 1861, when the latter said,
" I do not believe there is an honest man in Massachusetts."
After a moment's reflection he added : " I beg to assure you,
Mr. Butler, I mean nothing personal." The General re-
sponded : " I believe there are a great many honest men in
Georgia; but in saying so, sir, I too mean nothing personal."
Note 6. Page 174, line n, after the word "period."
The words of Clark E. Carr are entitled to credit, for no
one present had more at heart than he the success of these
ceremonies he being one of the original commissioners
comprising the board that purchased this, the first ground
set apart for a national cemetery for our soldiers. He was on
the platform from which Mr. Lincoln spoke, He says in his
288 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
" Lincoln at Gettysburg " that, " Before the great multitude
of people could prepare themselves to listen intelligently, be-
fore their thoughts had become sufficiently centred upon the
speaker to take up his line of thought and follow him, he
had finished and returned to his seat. So short a time [only
about three minutes] was Mr. Lincoln before them that the
people could scarcely believe their eyes when he disappeared
from their view. They could not possibly in so short a time
mentally grasp the ideas that were conveyed. Many persons
said to me that they would have supposed that on such a
great occasion the President would have made a speech.
Every one thought he made only a very few " dedicatory
remarks." Mr. Carr further says that the general impression
was that the remarks consisted of "a dozen commonplace
sentences scarcely one of which contained anything new,
anything that when stated was not self-evident."
Note 7. Page 199, last line, after the word " quality."
While reading over some of the appealing telegrams
sent to the War Department by General McClellan, Lin-
coln said, " It seems to me that McClellan has been wander-
ing around and has got lost. He 's been hollering for help
ever since he went south wants somebody to come to his
deliverance and get him out of the place he 's got into. He
reminds me of the story of a man out in Illinois, who, in
company with a number of friends, visited the state peniten-
tiary. They wandered all through the institution and saw
everything, but just about the time to depart, this man be-
came separated from his friends and could n't find his way
out. At last he came across a convict who was looking out
from between the bars of his cell door ; he hastily asked :
" Say ! How do you get out of this place ? "
Note 8. Page 203, line 14, after the word "patriotism."
Whether the act proved his wisdom or not, the result
certainly sustained and justified his course; the proceeding
at least exemplified his firmness and determination in des-
perate emergencies. There is perhaps no act recorded in
our history that demanded greater courage or more heroic
In a conversation with me shortly after this Mr. Lincoln
said, " Well, I suppose our victory at Antietam will condone
my offence in reappointing McClellan. If the battle had
gone against us poor McClellan (and I too) would be in a
bad row of stumps."
Had not the tide of success and victory turned in our
favor about this time, there is little doubt that Mr. Lincoln
would have been deposed and a military dictatorship erected
upon the ruins of his administration. The victory at Antie-
tam was, without doubt, the turning point for fame or for
downfall in the career of Mr. Lincoln.
Note 9. Page 208, line 3, after the word " McClellan."
WASHINGTON, April 13, 1888.
MY DEAR MARSHAL LAMON, I received the proof sheet of
your article enclosed in your note of the 8th. I have read it very
carefully and I find the facts as stated are correct.
Mr. F. P. Blair, Senior, told me the incident of conyeying in
person President Lincoln's letter to McClellan.
I liked McClellan, but I have always believed he was politically
slaughtered in the house of his alleged friends.
Note 10. Page 219, last line, after the word " subject."
At a cabinet meeting, the advisability of putting a motto
on greenbacks similar to the " In God We Trust " on
the silver coins was discussed and the President was asked
what his view was. He replied, "if you are going to put a
motto on the greenback, I would suggest that of Peter and
John : ' Silver and gold we have not, but what we have we'll
give you.' "
290 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Note n. Page 235, line 25, after the word " God."
John W. Crisfield served in Congress with Mr. Lincoln
in 1847 and was a warm friend of Lincoln. Being elected
again as Representative in 1861, he was in Congress when
the proposition was made for gradual emancipation in the
border states by paying the loyal owners for their slaves.
Mr. Crisfield was on the committee that was to draft the
reply to this proposition. When he was at the White House
one day in July, 1862, Mr. Lincoln said: "Well, Crisfield,
how are you getting along with your report, have you writ-
ten it yet? " Mr. Crisfield replied that he had not. Mr. Lin-
coln knowing that the Emancipation Proclamation was
coming, in fact was then only two months away said,
" You had better come to an agreement. Niggers will never
Note 12. Page 275, line 5, after the word " fac-simile."
Apropos of passes to Richmond once when a man called
upon the President and solicited a pass to Richmond. Mr.
Lincoln said : " Well, I would be very happy to oblige,
if my passes were respected ; but the fact is, sir, I have,
within the past two years, given passes to 250,000 men to go
to Richmond and not one has got there yet."
LINCOLN IN A LAW CASE.
R. LINCOLN believed that : "He who knows only
his own side of a case knows little of that." The
first illustration of his peculiar mental operations which led
him always to study the opposite side of every disputed
question more exhaustively than his own, was on his first
appearance before the Supreme Court of Illinois when he
actually opened his argument by telling the court that
after diligent search he had not found a single decision in
favor of his case but several against it, which he then
cited, and submitted his case. This may have been
what Mr. Lincoln alluded to when he told Thurlow Weed
that the people used to say, without disturbing his self-
respect, that he was not lawyer enough to hurt him.
The most important case Mr. Lincoln ever argued be-
fore the Supreme Court was the celebrated case of the
Illinois Central Railroad Company vs. McLean County.
The case was argued twice before this tribunal ; one
brief of which is among the forty pages of legal manu-
script written by Mr. Lincoln in the writer's possession.
While its four pages may have more historic value than a
will case argued in the Circuit Court of Sangamon County,
still the latter is chosen to illustrate the period of Mr.
Lincoln's mature practice and to show his analytical
methods, his original reasoning, and his keen sense of
The case is one wherein land has been left to three
sons and a grandson and the personal estate to be divided
among three daughters after the death of the widow.
Mr. Lincoln is employed to defend the will against the
three daughters and their husbands.
The brief consists of fifteen pages of legal cap paper
only four of which are here given.
It is said that he wrote few papers, less perhaps than
any other man at the bar ; therefore this memorandum in
his own hand is also valuable as an example of the notes
he so rarely made.
LINCOLN IN A LAW CASE. 293
LINCOLN IN A LAW CASE.
Then a copy of the will and the evidence of sixteen
witnesses, after which the following page of authorities :
One of the opposing attorneys in the case was Mr.
Lincoln's former law partner, Judge Stephen T. Logan,
who was the acknowledged leader of the Illinois Bar for
many years and from whom Mr. Lincoln derived more
benefit than from any other.f
* This was evidently written twice by Mr. Lincoln for it seems
to be the corrected page of one in the Collection of General
Orendorff. This corrected page has not the first allegation
found in the rough draft : " The widow of the testator is not a
competent witness, n Hump. 565."
t Mr. Lincoln's first partner, John T. Stuart, enjoyed telling of
his own arrival in Springfield in 1828 from Kentucky; how the
next morning he was standing in front of the village store wonder-
ing how to introduce himself to the community, when a well-
dressed old gentleman approached him, who, interesting himself
in his welfare, inquired after his history and business. " I am
from Kentucky," answered Mr. Stuart, "and my profession is that
of a lawyer, sir. What is the prospect here ? " Throwing back his
head and closing his left eye. the old gentleman reflected a mo-
ment, then replied : " Young man, d slim chance for that kind
of a combination here."
LINCOLN IN A LAW CASE.
Was Mr. Lincoln's experience at the bar a mere epi-
sode in his wonderful career, or was it the foundation upon
which rested the whole structure of that career? He said
himself that " Law is the greatest science of man. It is
That there was a chance for that combination in Springfield has
been most conclusively proven. Lincoln's three law partners at
that place as well as himself were all from Kentucky, to say noth-
ing of other prominent members of the bar of Springfield who
came from the Blue Grass state.
the best profession to develop the logical faculty and the
highest platform on which man can exhibit his powers of
well trained manhood."
MR. LINCOLN'S VIEWS OF THE AMERICAN
OR KNOW-NOTHING PARTY.
Mr. Lincoln found in the Declaration of Inde-
pendence his perfect standard of political truth is
perhaps in none of his utterances more conclusively shown
than in a private letter to his old friend Joshua F. Speed,
written in 1855, in which he says : "You enquire where I
now stand. That is a disputed point. I think I am a
Whig ; but others say there are no Whigs, and that I am
an Abolitionist. I am not a Know-Nothing ! that is cer-
tain. How could I be ? How can anyone who abhors the
oppression of negroes be in favor of degrading classes of
white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to
me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declar-
ing that ' All men are created equal? We now practi-
cally read it, ' All men are created equal except negroes.'
When the Know-Nothings get control it will read, ' All
men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners
and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I should prefer
emigrating to some country where they make no pretence
of loving liberty, where despotism can be taken pure,
and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."
ACCOUNT OF ARRANGEMENTS FOR
COOPER INSTITUTE SPEECH.
NEW YORK, March 20, 1872.
MY DEAR SIR, ... I send you for such use as you
may deem proper the following letter written by me when at
" Old Orchard Beach " a few years ago, giving the " truth
of history " in relation to the address of Mr. Lincoln at the
Cooper Institute in this City on the 27th of February,
1860. . . .
. . . We, the world, and all the coming generation of
mankind down the long line of ages, cannot know too much
about Abraham Lincoln, our martyr President
(Signed) JAMES A. BRIGGS.
MR. WARD H. LAMON,
WASHINGTON, D. C.
"In October, 1859, Messrs. Joseph H. Richards, J. M.
Pettingill, and S. W. Tubbs called on me at the office of the
Ohio State Agency, 25 William Street, and requested me to
write to the Hon. Thomas Corwin, of Ohio, and the Hon.
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, and invite them to lecture in
a course of lectures these young gentlemen proposed for the
winter in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn.
" I wrote the letters as requested, and offered as compen-
sation for each lecture, as I was authorized, the sum of two
hundred dollars. The proposition to lecture was accepted
SPEECH AT COOPER INSTITUTE. 30!
by Messrs. Corwin and Lincoln. Mr. Corwin delivered his
lecture in Plymouth Church as he was on his way to Wash-
ington to attend Congress. Mr. Lincoln could not lecture
until late in the season, and a proposition was agreed to by
the gentlemen named, and accepted by Mr. Lincoln, as the
following letter will show :
DANVILLE, ILL., November 13, 1859.
JAMES A. BRIGGS, Esq. :
DEAR SIR, Yours of the ist, closing with my proposi-
tion for compromise, was duly received. I will be on hand,
and in due time will notify you of the exact day. I believe,
after all, I shall make a political speech of it. You have no
I would like to know in advance, whether I am also to
speak or lecture in New York.
Very, very glad your election went right.
P. S. I am here at court, but my address is still at
" In due time Mr. Lincoln wrote me that he would deliver
the lecture, a political one, on the evening of the 27th of
February, 1860. This was rather late in the season for a
lecture, and the young gentlemen who were responsible were
doubtful about its success, as the expenses were large. It
was stipulated that the lecture was to be in Plymouth
Church, Brooklyn. I requested and urged that the lecture
should be delivered at the Cooper Institute. They were
fearful it would not pay expenses three hundred and fifty
dollars. I thought it would.
" In order to relieve Messrs. Richards, Pettingill, and
Tubbs of all responsibility, I called upon some of the officers
of the ' Young Men's Republican Union ' and proposed that
they should take Mr. Lincoln, and that the lecture should be
delivered under their auspices. They respectfully declined.
" I next called upon Mr. Simeon Draper, then President
of 'The Draper Republican Union Club of New York,'
and proposed to him that his ' Union ' take Mr. Lincoln and
the lecture, and assume the responsibility of the expenses.
Mr. Draper and his friends declined, and Mr. Lincoln was
left in the hands of ' the original Jacobs.'
M After considerable discussion, it was agreed on the part
of the young gentlemen that the lecture should be delivered
in the Cooper Institute, if I would agree to share the ex-
penses, if the sale of tickets (twenty-five cents each) for the
lecture did not meet the outlay. To this I assented, and the
lecture was advertised to be delivered in the Cooper Insti-
tute on the evening of the 2/th of February, 1860.
" Mr. Lincoln read the notice of the lecture in the papers
and, without any knowledge of the arrangement, was some-
what surprised to learn that he was first to make his appear-
ance before a New York instead of a ' Plymouth Church '
audience. A notice of the proposed lecture appeared in the
New York papers, and the ' Times ' spoke of him 'as a lawyer
who had some local reputation in Illinois.'
" At my personal solicitation Mr. William Cullen Bryant
presided as chairman of the meeting, and introduced Mr.
Lincoln for the first time to a New York audience.
" The lecture was over, all the expenses were paid, I was
handed by the gentlemen interested the sum of $4.25 as my
share of the profits, as they would have called on me if there
had been a deficiency in the receipts to meet expenses."
[Mr. Briggs received as his share of the profits $4.25.
What the country profited by this, Mr. Lincoln's first tri-
umph outside of his own state, has never been computed.]
C. P MtftUUMAN. \
F. J. BRIUGS, /
C. it- NoKTH CORRESPONDING EWTOB, Chicago.
BLOOMLNGTON, WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 1860.
F JR PRESIDENT.
HON. ABRAHAM LINCOLN, OP ILLINOIS.
FOR VICE PRESIDENT,
HON. HANNIBAL HAMLIN, OF MAINE.
IIO.\, OWi:\ LOVE JOT.
V - . ' . ' , !
HON. BICHAHD YATES, OP MORGAN.
FOE LIEUT. GOVERNOR,
HON. YITAL JARROT, OF ST. CLAIRE.
FOR AUDITOR JESSIK K. niJBOIS. | jf
FOR STATE 8KCKETAKY O7IAS 1YI . HATCH.! g g
FOR TRBASURKK WI1.I.1AM BUTLBK. -<
SUP'T. PUB. IN8TUUCTION NEVVTOiN 8ATKIHAN.i 73 o
Presidential Elector*. t
AT LARGE. _ U
LEONARD SWETT of McLean. c -a
JOHN M. PALMJER of Macoupin. rt B
First A. C. FULLER of Boone. J> 3
Second WM. B. PLATO ..of Kane. m
Third LAWRENCE WELDON of De Witt
Fourth WM. P. KELLOGG of Fulton. * 2
Fifth J. STARK of Hancock. . *
Sixth J. C. CONK LI NO of SanRamon. <5 *
Seventh H. P. H. BKOMMELL _ of Coles. * *=
>:i.'hth.:..;....T. G. A\LK of Knndolpb. rf >>
Ninth JOHN OLNEV of Gallatin. ~ "5
. | y
FOR REPRESENTATIVE HARVKY HOGO
FOK CLKKK of Circuit Court WM. M'CULIjOPGH. S
FOR SHKRiFF JOHN U. RUTT.
FOR CORONER WM. MATHKWS. "o
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
TT has been said that the term "rail-splitter" which
became a leading feature of the campaign in 1860
originated at the Chicago convention when Mr. Deland of
Ohio, who seconded the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, said :
" I desire to second the nomination of a man who can
split rails and maul Democrats."
Mr. Delano not only seconded the nomination, but
"seconded " the campaign "cry."
Gov. Oglesby one week before at the State Convention at
Decatur introduced into the assemblage John Hanks, who
bore on his shoulder two small rails surmounted by a
banner with this inscription : " Two rails from a lot made
by Abraham Lincoln and John Hanks in the Sangamon
Bottom in the year 1830."
For six months Rail-splitter was heard everywhere and
rails were to be seen on nearly everything, even on
stationery. One of the Lincoln delegates said : " These
rails represent the issue between labor free and labor
slave, between democracy and aristocracy."
The Democrats disliked to hear so much about " honest
Old Abe," "the rail-splitter" the " flatboatman," "the
pioneer." These cries had an ominous sound in their ears.
Just after the State Convention which named Lincoln as
first choice of the Republicans of Illinois, an old man,
devoted to the principles of Democracy and much
annoyed by the demonstration in progress, approached
Mr. Lincoln and said, "So you're Abe Lincoln?"
" That 's my name, sir, " answered Mr. Lincoln. " They
say you 're a self-made man, " said the Democrat. " Well,
yes," said Lincoln, " what there is of me is self-made."
" Well, all I 've got to say," observed the old man after
a careful survey of the statesman before him, " is that it
was a bad job."
ON the temperance question Mr. Lincoln has been
quoted by the adherents of both sides. He had
no taste for spirituous liquors and when he took them it
was a punishment to him, not an indulgence. In a tem-
perance lecture delivered in 1842 Mr. Lincoln said:
" In my judgment such of us as have never fallen victims
have been spared more from the absence of appetite
than from any mental or moral superiority over those who
have. Indeed, I believe if we take habitual drunkards
as a class their heads and their hearts will bear an advan-
tageous comparison with those of any other class."
None of his nearest associates ever saw Mr. Lincoln
voluntarily call for a drink but many times they saw him
take whiskey with a little sugar in it to avoid the appear-
ance of discountenancing it to his friends. If he could
have avoided it without giving offence he would gladly
have done so. He was a conformist to the conventionali-
ties of the surroundings in which he was placed.
Whether Mr. Lincoln sold liquor by the dram over the
counter of the grocery store kept by himself and Berry
will forever remain an undetermined question. When
Douglas revived the story in one of his debates, Mr.
Lincoln replied that even if it were true, there was but
little difference between them, for while he figured on one
side of the counter Douglas figured on the other.
Mr. Lincoln disliked sumptuary laws and would not
prescribe by statute what other men should eat or drink.
When the temperance men ran to the Legislature to in-
voke the power of the state, his voice the most elo-
quent among them was silent. He did not oppose
them, but quietly withdrew from the cause and left others
to manage it.
In 1854 he was induced to join the order called Sons
of Temperance, but never attended a single meeting after
the one at which he was initiated.
Judge Douglas once undertook to ridicule Mr. Lincoln
on not drinking. " What, are you a temperance man?"
he inquired. " No," replied Lincoln, " I am not a tem-
perance man but I am temperate in this, to wit : I don't
He often used to say that drinking spirits was to him
like thinking of spiritualism, he wanted to steer clear of
both evils; by frequent indulgence he might acquire a
dangerous taste for the spirit and land in a drunkard's
grave ; by frequent thought of spiritualism he might
become a confirmed believer in it and land in a lunatic
In 1889 Miss Kate Field wrote W. H. Lamon saying :
Will you kindly settle a dispute about Lincoln ? Lately in
Pennsylvania I quoted Lincoln to strengthen my argument
against Prohibition, and now the W. C. T. U. quote him for
the other side. What is the truth ?
... As you are the best of authority on the subject of
Abraham Lincoln, can you explain why he is quoted on the
Prohibition side ? Did he at any time make speeches that
could be construed with total abstinence ?
To this Lamon replied :
You ask my recollection of Mr. Lincoln's views on the
question of Temperance and Prohibition. I looked upon
him as one of the safest temperance men I ever knew.
He seemed on this subject, as he was on most others, unique
in profession as well as in practice. He was neither what
might be called a drinking man, a total abstainer, nor a
Prohibitionist. My acquaintance with him commenced in
1847. He was then and afterwards a politician. He
mixed much and well with the people. Believed what the
people believed to be right was right.
Society in Illinois at that early day was as crude as the
country was uncultivated. People then were tenacious of
their natural as well as their acquired rights and this state of
things existed until Mr. Lincoln left the State to assume the
duties of President. The people of Illinois firmly believed
it was one of their inalienable rights to manufacture, sell, and
drink whiskey as it was the sacred right of the southern man
to rear, work, and whip his own nigger, and woe be unto
him who attempted to interfere with these rights (as the
sequel afterwards showed when Mr. Lincoln and his friends
tried to prevent the southern man from whipping his own
nigger in the territories).
I heard Mr. Lincoln deliver several temperance lectures.
One evening in Danville, 111., he happened in at a temperance
meeting, the "Old Washingtonian Society," I think, and
was called on to make a speech. He got through it well,
after which he and other members of the Bar who were
present were invited to an entertainment at the house of Dr.
Scott. Wine and cake were handed around. Mrs. Scott,
in handing Mr. Lincoln a glass of homemade wine, said, " I
hope you are not a teetotaler, Mr. Lincoln, if you are a tem-
perance lecturer." "By no means, my dear madam," he re-
plied; "for I do assure you (with a humorous smile) I
am very fond of my ' Todd ' (a play upon his wife's
maiden name). I by no means oppose the use of wine. I
only regret that it is not more in universal use. I firmly
believe if our people were to habitually drink wine, there
would be little drunkenness in the country." In the conver-
sation which afterward became general, Judge David Davis,
Hon. Leonard Swett, and others present joining in the discus-
sion, I recollect his making this remark : " I am an apostle of
temperance only to the extent of coercing moderate indul-
gence and prohibiting excesses by all the moral influences I
can bring to bear."
T)ERHAPS no act of Mr. Lincoln's administration
J- showed his political shrewdness more clearly than
the permission he gave for the rebel legislature of Virginia
to meet for the purpose of recalling the state troops from
General Lee's Army. This permission was given in a
note to General Weitzel. Mr. Lincoln told Governor
Francis H. Pierpont that " its composition occupied five
hours of intense mental activity." Governor Pierpont says
he was the loyal Governor of Virginia at the time, and
Mr. Lincoln deemed it necessary to say something to him
about so extraordinary a measure as permitting the rebel
legislature to assemble when a loyal legislature with a
loyal governor was in existence and was recognized by the
federal government" Mr. Lincoln's note to General Weit-
zel read :
" It has been intimated to me that the gentlemen who
have acted as the legislature of Virginia in support of the
rebellion may now desire to assemble at Richmond and
take measures to withdraw the Virginia troops and other
support from resistance to the general government. If
they attempt it, give them permission and protection until,
if at all, they attempt some action hostile to the United
States, in which case you will notify them, give them
reasonable time to leave, and at the end of which time
arrest any who remain. Allow Judge Campbell to see
this, but do not make it public."
To write this note occupied all Mr. Lincoln's time
from 9 P. M. till 2 A. M. " five hours of uninterrupted
Mr. Lincoln foresaw that an attempt would be made to
construe his permission into a virtual recognition of the
authority of the rebel legislature. He steered clear of
this recognition by not speaking of them " as a legislature,"
but as, " the gentlemen who have acted as the legislature of
Virginia in support of rebellion," and explained afterward
when it was misconstrued, that he " did this on purpose
to exclude the assumption that I was recognizing them
as a rightful body. I dealt with them as men having
power de facto to do a specific thing."
FAIRFIELD, CONN., Jan. 9, 1861.
W. H. LAMON, Esq. :
DEAR SIR, Yours of December 26th duly received.
Connecticut is death on secession. I regard it the duty of
the Government to uphold its authority in the courts as
effectually south as it has done north if it can, and to hold
its forts and public grounds at whatever cost ard collect the
revenue ditto. There is but one feeling here, I believe,
though in the city of New York there are those who sustain
her actions, that secession is disgraceful as well as ruinous
on the part of South Carolina. I glory in Lincoln now for
I feel that he is the most suitable man of our party for this
terrible ordeal through which he has to pass. I rely with
entire confidence upon his urbanity, gentleness, goodness,
and ability to convince his enemies of his perfect uprightness
as well as his firmness and courage. I do not expect him to
be as warlike as Jackson, but I look for the calm courage
befitting a Judge on the bench. With Lincoln as President
and Scott as Lieutenant-General, I have no fears but the
dignity of the Government will be sustained after the 4th of
March. What is being done to protect Lincoln personally
at Washington before and after Inauguration ? Is there not
a propriety in some of his friends making it their especial
business to escort him without even his knowing it ? You
know these Southern men better than I do. If there is
propriety in such a thing, or need for it, rather, I would
meet you at Washington when he goes on and stay with you
while it is needed.
NEWARK, OHIO, Feby. 14, 1861.
FRIEND LAMON, I concluded to drop you this note, on
learning that you in company with our mutual friend Judge
Davis were with the President Elect on his tour to the Seat
of Government. I was led to this through fear of the failure
of some correspondence to reach your eye, the drift of it was
to secure the appointment of postmaster at this city for
your humble servant. Now if you have not been bored to
death already by friends who are your humble servants, say
a kind word for me. I have asked for the Post Office here
for some good reasons. Poor enough to ask it and capable
to fill it ... and have my second papers for being Black
Republican. I might add that the Citizens would not look
upon my appointment as an overt act against this City. I
was removed from the Post Office Dept. in 1855 f r opposi-
tion to Judge Douglas for removing the Missouri Compro-
mise. ... I would beg to be remembered to Messrs. Lincoln
and Davis. Wishing you all a pleasant trip, safe arrival and
a smooth sea in the future
Yours very truly,
JAS. H. SMITH.
The following letter may be of interest as showing the
impression made at a time when opinions of Mr. Lincoln
were in the formative state. New York City, as a whole,
was unfriendly to Lincoln. Written when Lincoln was in
New York on his way to Washington.
NEW YORK, Feby. 20, 1861.
DEAR LAMON, I was glad today to recognize you ; and
drop you a line instead of a call when you must be so weary.
Just before we met, my father and old Aid" Purdy (both
wheel-horses in the Dem' party here) were canvassing
matters politic. Purdy said he had seen Lincoln and liked
the man ; said he was much better looking and a finer man
than he expected to see ; and that he kept aloof from old
politicians here and seemed to have a mind of his own. Old
Judge Benson too (who was with us) is a Democrat and was
equally pleased with Lincoln. He says Lincoln has an eye
that shows power of mind and will, and he thinks he will
carry us safely.
I repeat these comments, because they came from behind
the scenes of the popular apprehensions whence at present
our friend Lincoln is excluded, and I feel sure he will be
pleased to know how favorable an impression he makes. . . .
Tell Lincoln to use his own judgment and be bold and
firm. The people of all parties here are prepared to sustain
him. But he may beware of all old politicians of both
Because he is a fresh man and an able one he was taken
up. Let his freshness enter his policy also
SPRINGFIELD, Feb. 22, 1861.
HILL, This is Dick Gilmer of Pike he is to that neck
of Woods what you or Dick Oglesby are to this region of
Country. . . . Do what you can consistently for him and
O. M. HATCH.
BLOOMINGTON (!LL.), Feby. 25, 1861.
DEAR HILL, Nothing of moment has occurred since
your departure. Do write me immediately explaining the
cause of your mysterious transit through Maryland.
Here let me say a word about Washington. It is the
worst place in the world to judge correctly of anything. A
ship might as well learn its bearings in the Norway Mael-
strom, as for you people to undertake to judge anything cor-
rectly upon your arrival there.
You are the subject of every artful and selfish appliance.
You breathe an air pregnant with panic. You have to decide
before you can discover the secret springs of the action
presented to you.
There is but one rule and that is to stand by and adopt the
judgment you formed before you arrived there.
The atmosphere of Washington and the country are as
unlike as the atmosphere of Greenland and the tropics.
The country is moved and moves by its judgment
Washington by its artificial life. The country really knows
nothing of Washington and Washington knows nothing of
the country. Washington is drunk, the Country is sober and
the appeal from your judgment there to your home judg-
ment is simply an appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober.
Please give these ideas in better language than I have
done to Mr. Lincoln. I know his sound home judgment,
the only thing I fear is the bewilderment of that city of
rumors. I do ache to have him do well.
WASHINGTON, March 2, 1861.
DEAR SIR, I have received your request and shall take
great pleasure to do what you wish in respect to Delaware.
Very truly your friend,
WARD H. LAMON, Esq.
DANVILLE, ILL., March 5, 1861.
DEAR HILL, Have just read Lincoln's inaugural. It
is just right and pleases us much. Not a word too much or
too little. He assumes the tone and temper of a statesman
of the olden time. God bless him and keep him safely to
the end. Are you coming home to see us ere you depart
hence? You could unfold to us a chapter that would be
spicy, rich and rare.
We were at first disposed to regret Lincoln's hasty trip
from Harrisburgh. But the action of the crowd at Balti-
more convinces us that it was^the most prudent course to
pursue. . . .
Very truly your friend,
O. F. HARMON.
ON BOARD STEAMER WARSAW, March 8, 1861.
DEAR LAMON, I got home a week ago. I have heard
a good many things said pro and con about the new admin-
istration, and as far as I have heard the mass of the people
have confidence in Mr. Lincoln, and this applies to the people
of the border slave states as well as the free states. But it
is not worth while to disguise the fact that a large majority
of the free states in the Northwest are opposed to Ultra
measures and the people of the slave states are almost
unanimous against coercion. Many appointments that have
been made by the new administration were unfortunate.
It must necessarily be so with all administrations, and Mr.
Lincoln has had more than his share of trouble in making
his selection. I fear that a majority of the Senators on our
side care but little for his success further than it can con-
tribute to their own glory, and they have had such men ap-
pointed to office as they felt would serve their own purpose
without any reference to Mr. Lincoln and but little for the
party. . . .
As far as I could see when at Washington, to have been
an original friend of Mr. Lincoln was an unpardonable
offence with Members of Congress. . . .
I have the utmost confidence in the success of Mr. Lincoln
but I do not expect his support to come from the radical
element of our party. . . .
Your true friend,
HON. W. H. LAMON.
STATE OF ILLINOIS,
SPRINGFIELD, March, 18, 1861.
WARD H. LAMON:
DEAR HILL, My brother is foolish enough to desire an
office. When you see him, and this, if he still insists that
he has as good right to a place as anybody else, I want you
to do for him, what you would for me. No more, no
less . . .
O. M. HATCH.
March 19, 1861.
MY DEAR COLONEL, When I left Washington I handed
to Judge Davis a letter setting forth what I wished him to
do for me in Washington if it met his views.
I desired to be detailed as acting Inspector General of the
Army in place of Emory promoted Lieutenant-Colonel of
the Cavalry. This appointment needs only an order of the
Secretary of War. Mr. Cameron promised Judge Davis to
attend to it at once, but I presume he has overlooked it.
Will you do me the favor to see Cameron on the subject ?
He knows all about it and precisely what to do.
I hope you are having a good time in Washington. I
presume you are as you seem to have very much enjoyed the
excitement along the road and in Washington. I shall
always cherish a most pleasant remembrance of our journey
and of the agreeable acquaintances and friends I made on
the road. Among the last I have rated you and Judge
Davis with peculiar satisfaction and I hope you will always
believe that I shall cherish the warmest personal regard for
Very truly your friend,
March 23, 1861.
DEAR HILL, The public mind is prepared to hear of the
evacuation of Sumter, but it is a great humiliation. Still if
Mr. Lincoln gives the order you may swear that such is the
public confidence in him it will be at once taken as a neces-
sity of the situation.
W. H. HANNA.
BLOOMINGTON, ILL., March 30, 1861.
DEAR HILL, I saw the " Telegraphic Announcement"
of your prospective trip to Charleston before your kind and
cordial letter was received. Yesterday, the " Telegraph "
announced your return to Washington, which gratified us
all. The papers represent you as quite a Lion. I have no
doubt you bear your honors meekly. . . .
I am anxious about the country. Are we to be divided
as a nation ? The thought is terrible. I never entertained
a question of your success in getting to and from Charleston.
How do things look at Washington ? Are the appoint-
ments satisfactory? No foreign appointments for the border
slave states ? Is this policy a wise one ? Off here it does
not look so to me.
Did Hawkins Taylor of Iowa get anything ? . . .
URBANA, Apr. 6, 1861.
DEAR HILL, The Judge and I are now attending Court
at this place, the only wreck of that troupe which was once
the life and soul of professional life in this country. I see
Judge McLean has departed this life. The question is
who shall succeed to the ermin so worthily worn by him.
Why should not David Davis who was so instrumental in
giving position to him who now holds the matter in the
hollow of his hand ? Dear Hill, if retribution, justice, and
gratitude are to be respected, Lincoln can do nothing less
than to tender the position to Judge Davis. I want you to
suggest it to Lincoln. ... Of course you will. I know your
noble nature too well to believe that you would not think
of a suggestion of this kind as soon as myself. Write me.
BLOOMINGTON, Apr. 7, 1861.
DEAR HILL, Why don't you write. Tell us something.
By the way, since McLean'sdeath the friends of Judge Davis
think Lincoln ought to put him on Supreme Bench. Now I
want you to find out when this appointment will be made.
Also tell Lincoln that Judge Davis will be an applicant, so
that he may not ignore the fact or act without that knowledge.
I wish, too, you would without fail go immediately to Cam-
eron, Caleb B. Smith, and Gov. Seward and tell them Davis
will be an applicant. Tell Smith what I know, that it was
through the Illinois fight and Judge Davis that Judd went out
and he went in, and we think we ought to be remembered for
it. Now, Hill, I know you are bored to death, but our mutual
regard for the Judge must make us doubly industrious and
persistent in this case.
Write immediately what the chances are, how Lincoln feels
about it, and what we ought to do.
WASHINGTON, April 8, 1861.
HON. WARD H. LAMON:
MY DEAR SIR, I cannot deny the request of the Rev-
erend Mr. Wright, so far as to enclose the within letter. I
do not know the person recommended personally; but the
Reverend gentleman who writes the letter is a most esti-
mable and worthy man, whom I should be delighted to grat-
ify if I felt at liberty to recommend any one, which I do not
under existing circumstances.
I am very respectfully your obedient servant,
S. A. DOUGLAS.
ST. Louis, Mo., April n, 1861.
COL. WARD H. LAMON :
DEAR SIR, On the 3oth of July last I was assaulted by
twenty-five outlaws in Texas with but one fighting friend
to stand by me. I gave an honorable compromise, and
came forth from my stronghold, in the presence of my
would-be hangmen, a daring Republican and a fearless
Lincoln man. But it afterwards became necessary for me
to leave Texas or be suspended. As I preferred dying in a
horizontal position, / left, came to St. Louis and am now at
the service of Mr. Lincoln and our Country. If war is made
I want a showing in Texas. There are many true and loyal
men there. A few thousand soldiers thrown in there to
form a nucleus around which the Houston Union men can
rally will soon form a barrier to rebellion in the Southwest.
When the " ball " opens I would like to be authorized to
raise five hundred men to occupy a position on Red River
at the mouth of Bogy Creek.
What can you do to assist me in doing something of the
kind. I will look for a reply to this in a few days.
J. E. LEMON.
BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS, April 16, 1861.
COL. W. H. LAMON :
DEAR HILL, I send you the result of a public meeting
here last night. We are, thank God, all right. . . .
Secession, disunion and even fault finding is done with in
this City. We shall all stand firmly by the administration
and fight it out.
On last Monday we had a few fights, for just at that time
we could not and would not allow a single word of fault
found with the administration; the result was that three
Democrats got thrashed. Just then we were hearing the
news of Fort Sumter, now we are all on one side.
I write this that you may know the exact truth about us.
If there is any service I can render the government count
me always on hand to do it. Write me if you can get time.
W. H. HANNA.
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, April 19, 1861.
DEAR SIR, Sufficient companies have been formed in
Indiana or nearly so to fill the six Regiments of our state.
They of course contain all classes of persons, but many of
them are our best and dearest youths with whom it has cost
many a sigh and burning tear to part. Thousands more
will soon be made ready to join. We are now of course
intensely anxious about the Commandants and suppose that
the President will have the appointment of those officers,
and my object in writing this is to request you -without fail
to see the President and General Cameron and say to them
that we are all sensitive upon the appointments of the Brig-
adier General of this state, and say to them that the appoint-
ment of a mere civilian will give extreme dissatisfaction not
only to the troops but to their friends.
I name no person of that character who is an aspirant but
I regret to say that there are some of that character here.
From the appointment of one of whom, may God in his in-
finite mercy save us.
I believe every man in our State will arm, and those who
refuse will be hung and their property confiscated. There is
a feeling all through the State of the most intense character,
wholly indescribable. I can do nothing of business. I am
now helping our 200 men off, encouraging and counselling
them what I can. Unless some change in my feelings now
strained to the utmost pitch, I shall not be far behind them.
Our boys are taking the oath in the Hall of the House,
and the telegraph brings intelligence of the fighting at Balti-
more and the burning of Harper's Ferry. The boys take the
oath with a look of determination to do or die.
All our fears now are for Washington. May God preserve
you until succor comes.
J. P. USHER.
I am so excited that I can scarcely write legibly, but say to
the President that the entire power of Indiana with all its
men, women and children, money and goods, will be sacri-
ficed if necessary to sustain the government ; the treachery
of Virginia only intensifies the feeling.
J. P. U.
TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA, May 5, 1861.
W. H. LAMON, Esq.:
DEAR SIR, Since I wrote to you on the igth ult. I
have been at Indianapolis endeavoring to aid the Governor
in such way as I could. My desire has been to prevent rash
counsels from being followed and from incurring unnecessary
expense, and I think I have had some influence in keeping
down extravagance. We are appalled every day by some
new development of the dreadful conspiracy which has been
formed for the entire overthrow of the Government. I
hope its worst has now been realized and that whatever may
occur hereafter will be for the better. Of one thing the
President may rest perfectly satisfied, that the entire voice
of Indiana is for the most vigorous prosecution of the War.
I have no doubt but that 50,000 men could be raised in a
month. All business has been suspended and the people do
not expect to do anything until the war is ended. My desire
is that it be pushed as fast as it possibly can, not rashly, but
rapidly accompanied by such necessary severity as will be a
terror to evil-doing. We have nothing to expect from Ken-
tucky or Missouri, they remain partly quiet because of their
proximity to the free states. My opinion is that they will
not revolt now, or if they do, it will be in that partial way to
avoid any entire destruction for the industrial interests of
those states. However that may be, they refuse to answer
to the call of the President for volunteers and I am totally
opposed to their being suffered to remain in the attitude like
cow-boys of the Revolution. I am for suspending all trade
with them, if they will not furnish their quota of troops.
If you please, and think it will not be deemed to be too
impertinent in me, say to the President that my opinion is
that the troops at Cairo should stop all boats of every kind
passing down the river and that no provisions whatever
should be permitted to be shipped to any state refusing to
furnish their quota of troops. It will prevent violence here :
throughout Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois most of the people
think that trade of all kinds with the rebels should cease,
and that can only be accomplished by the proclamation of
the President. I hope he will make the proclamation. Our
people want it, but his advisers there and his own wisdom,
in which I have all confidence, will control. The people of
the West expect him, nay all the civilized world expects him
to press forward with undeviating firmness until the rebel-
lion is crushed. We possess nothing too valuable for the
sacrifice. Let us not be rash, but to the best advantage let
us put the lives and worldly goods of us all upon the altar
for the sacrifice, for the preservation of the government.
Neither life nor goods will be valuable or worth preservation
if the Constitution is to be overthrown. No villainy like
this has ever occurred in the history of man, or one that
deserves such terrible punishment. I believe it is said in
history, though fabulous, that no spear of grass ever grew
where Attila stepped his foot. I do most religiously hope
that there will be a foot heavy enough to let down upon old
Virginia to stop the growth of grass for a time. The evil
must be met, and we were never in a better condition to test
Western Virginia has a Convention on the I4th; how will
it do for Indiana to send a Commissioner ? I think I could
get Governor Morton to send R. W. Thompson. Suppose
you ask Lincoln what he thinks of it. Thompson has been
taking great interest in the war, making speeches and put-
ting the people right. I have no doubt he will be much
flattered at an appointment to the loyal Virginians, and if it
is thought best at Washington, I think I can have it done.
I shall be at Indianapolis for a day or two, when I shall
return and be at the Charleston and Danville, Illinois,
Courts for the next two weeks. Don't you wish you could
Most truly yours,
J. P. USHER.
BLOOMINGTON, ILL., May 6, 1861.
DEAR HILL, Your anxious and harassing state at Wash-
ington during those perilous times has so occupied your
time and attention that you have not had any leisure to write.
I have not heard from you for three weeks. For the last
three weeks I have been holding court in Lincoln. The
excitement about enlisting nearly broke the court up for two
weeks. I was at Springfield two days week before last and
found everything astir. I need not say that you were
missed at Lincoln by me and everybody else. Your ab-
sence was regretted by everyone and yet everyone thought
you deserved your good fortune.
I found Trumbull very unpopular with the members of
the Legislature and other parties at Springfield. Douglas
is in the topmost wave. Douglas would beat Trumbull before
this legislature. My course last summer in using my best
endeavors to elect Trumbull does not meet with my own
This war and its dreadful consequences affects my spirits.
... It is very lonely going round the circuit without you.
DANVILLE, ILL., May 10, 1861.
DEAR HILL, I have written you about every week since
I left Urbana. Dan Voorhees has been here for two days.
He is a devoted friend of yours. He feels badly about the
state of the country but is for the maintenance of the
Government. . . .
Mr. [Joseph G.] Cannon the new Prosecutor is a pleas-
ant, unassuming gentleman and will in time make a good
I need not tell you that it is lonesome here on account
* This prophecy was certainly fulfilled.
of your absence. This is my last court here and no lawyer
is practising here who was practising here when I held my
first court. This is emphatically a world of change.
Your friend as ever,
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 4, 1861.
COLONEL LAMON :
MY DEAR SIR, I would be obliged to you to procure
for me that Presidential interview as soon as practicable. I
do not wish to trouble you, but I am in a considerable hurry.
I wish to say some things to the President about matters in
North Carolina. There are some Union men there yet.
CHAS. HENRY FOSTER.
BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS, August 25, 1861.
COL. WARD H. LAMON :
DEAR HILL, Weare making great preparations for war in
this State, and will have twenty thousand men in camp, besides
those already in Missouri, in a very short time. There is a uni-
versal demand for the removal of Mr. Cameron, and I think
after all, the sooner it is done the better. Mr. Lincoln cer-
tainly has no idea of the universal disposition of the whole
people on this subject. I feel that Cameron wants to render
the war unpopular by mismanagement, for they all know
that if this war is successfully prosecuted that all the
scoundrels cannot keep Mr. Lincoln from being re-elected
Do tell Mr. Lincoln this thing, tell him also that he has
the confidence of all parties, except the traitors. . . .
I know Lincoln well enough to know that he will make no
mistakes, if he will consult his own will and act up to it
bravely and without hesitation. It is the best time in the
world to be President, but he must be all President. Half-
way measures will only now tend to our ruin and disgrace.
I fear Trumbull is a rascal, the idea of his being unpre-
pared in the Senate to vote for the resolution approving the
act of the President, has killed him off. I will bet you a
bottle of wine that he sees the day he will want to exchange
that little speech. . . .
I am perhaps too impatient, and I am besides under some
personal obligations to Mr. Cameron, but in this fight I care
nothing about obligations of friendship in opposition to the
welfare of the country. No one man nor any number of men
can in my estimation be allowed for one moment to stand in
the way of good government.
Excuse me for all this and believe me in everything. I am,
W. A. HANNA.
The city is full of soldiers and we are all marching left
W. H. H.
WILLARD'S HOTEL, 7 P. M. Aug. 30, 1861.
DEAR SIR, General Scott notified me that if I would
make an arrangement with the President to receive the Fort
Sumter Garrison at some definite time, he would be most
happy to be present at the reception. My men are at lei-
sure either to-morrow or Monday, or in fact any time during
the next week. Will you have the kindness to arrange it
and let me know the result ? I will call at this Hotel for your
Yours very truly,
To COL. WARD H. LAMON.
FORT LAFAYETTE, Oct. 24, 1861.
MY DEAR SIR, It is nearly three months since I have
been seized and held as a close prisoner by the Government
of the United States. No charge ever has none can be
preferred against me, and yet I am robbed of my lib-
erty separated from my family and home, and have been
subjected to irreparable pecuniary loss. Is it possible that
your friend Mr. Lincoln can permit such acts to be done
in his name and under his administration ? It is not possible
for me to give you in a brief letter a just view of my rela-
tions to the Government or of its conduct to me, but I ask
you to get the President in company with yourself to exam-
ine my correspondence with the War and State Departments,
commencing on the nineteenth of September. After their
perusal I think you will agree with me, that no man has ever
within the limits of the United States been more unjustly
deprived of his liberty. In truth, the President and yourself
will reach the conclusion that the honor and good faith of the
Government demand my release.
CHAS. J. FAULKNER.
In 1862 Hawkins Taylor wrote :
Thinking back to the Presidential Campaign I cannot help
but think how strange things have turned. I was an original
Lincoln man, worked for him before, at, and in the State
Convention for the nomination of Delegates to the Chicago
Convention. Grimes scouted the idea of such a country
lawyer being President. When the Chicago Convention
came off Colonel Warren, knowing that I was scarce of funds
and knowing my anxiety for the nomination of Mr. Lincoln,
sent me a ticket to Chicago and back. I pledged a watch
that cost me $128 for money to pay expenses there and to
our State Convention.
Colonel Warren also went to Chicago, and to my own cer-
tain knowledge, rendered most important services to Mr.
Lincoln. At the State Convention he was put at the head of
the electoral ticket, canvassed the entire state, made more
than one hundred speeches, spent his money by the hundreds.
While Grimes made two or three speeches, grum&ted privately
at the nomination, damned the President upon all occasions
since he took his seat. Yet Grimes has controlled the entire
patronage of the State of Iowa to the exclusion of Colonel
Warren and all his friends. How can Mr. Lincoln expect
friends in Iowa under this state of things 1
ILLINOIS, Feb. 12, 1862.
... By the bye I do not care how soon you come back
to Illinois provided always that I should hate for Hale
Grimes & Co. to have their way in driving off every one who
does not believe in negro stealing. . . . Yet I feel a good
deal like they profess to feel. I should be glad to see the poor
negroes free and provided for, but the abolition leaders seem
to me to entertain more hatred to the owners than love for
the negroes, and to be willing to sacrifice Whites, Negroes,
Country and Constitution to the gratification of their ambi-
tion and malignity.
I feel very glad at the progress the war is now making as
I do hope the present prospect of speedy success will enable
Lincoln and other conservative Republicans and Democrats
to set at defiance the ravings of the abolitionists and univer-
sal confiscation men. If their mouths can be stopped I
have now good hope that the union can soon be restored
and that a few months will bring daylight out of the troubles
of the Country. . . .
S. T. LOGAN.
OFFICE CHIEF QUARTER-MASTER
DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF
NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 8, 1862.
DEAR HILL, I have given both our Representatives from
here letters of introduction to you. Messrs. Flanders and
Hahn. You will find Flanders old enough to take care of
himself, but I desire that you be especially attentive to Hahn
as I want him to defend Mr. Lincoln. He is very popular
here and has very considerable influence and can do Mr.
Lincoln a great deal of good. See that he falls into the
right hands, men who support the policy of the administra-
tion. Both men are now right and I depend on our friends
to keep them right. Let me hear from you.
As ever your friend,
J. WILSON SHAFFER.
Quietly say to Lincoln to cultivate these men as they both
desire to find out what he wants and they will do it.
J. W. S.
12 NORTH A STREET, Feb. 26, 1863.
My DEAR SIR, Mr. J. N. Carpenter, who is a pay-
master in the Navy, has always borne and does now bear the
character of a truthfully upright and veracious man. I am
requested to say this of him to you and I give my testimony
accordingly without knowing what the object may be of
getting it. He is a member of the true church which be-
lieves in the ancient gospel, and you are related by marriage
to the same establishment. If you can do any good for
Mr. C. you will recollect that it is done unto them of the
household of faith and you will no doubt do it with the more
alacrity when you remember that Satan also takes care of
I am most respectfully yours, &c,
HON. W. H. LAMON. J. S. BLACK.
DECATUR, ILL., March 24, 1863.
COLONEL WARD, Received a letter yesterday from
Judge Davis who informs me that you and Swett joined him
heartily in efforts to secure my promotion, that this was all
done without my knowledge or encouragement, from pure
motives of personal attachment and kind old remembrances.
Allow me, Sir, to thank you kindly for this disinterested and
zealous effort to benefit and honor me. I did not deserve
the honor. I will try to do my best, however, and save my
friends and self from disgrace. I learn you are prospering
and are unchangeably the same. I hope some day to meet
you again when our Country will allow us all once more to
feel happy and at rest.
I go to the field to-day, although I am far from well. . .
Do not forget to remember me to the President cordially.
May God spare his life many years yet. I hope he never
despairs or falters under his heavy burden.
R. J. OGLESBY.
WARD H. LAMON,
Marshal of D. C.
NASHVILLE, January 10, 1865.
To WARD H. LAMON :
DEAR SIR, I am anxious to have a young Philadelphia
lawyer made captain of the regular army, and I know of no
one so likely to present the matter directly to Mr. Stanton
or the President as yourself. Will you oblige me by attend-
ing to the matter ? I am suffering from a fall and unable to
get to Washington.
Most respectfully your obedient servant,
KENTUCKY, January 23, 1865.
WARD H. LAMON, Esq. :
MY DEAR SIR, ... Please remember me to Mr. Lincoln
and thank him for his great kindness shown me during my last
visit to your city. I do hope and pray that he may stand
firm to the end of this wicked Rebellion, and while he ad-
ministers mercy so freely that he will not forget justice. I
am in favor of mercy, but never at the expense of justice.
I know he is magnanimous. He is too much so sometimes, I
fear. But I had rather trust him in this great crisis than
any other man living. May God give him wisdom to direct,
mercy to temper, and justice to balance the mighty interests
of humanity that tremble in the balance !
I should be happy to hear from you at an early date.
With kindest wishes for your health and prosperity,
I am, dear Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
D. P. HENDERSON.
CHICAGO, February 10, 1865.
DEAR SIR, Enclosed is a letter which I wish you to place
in the hands of President Lincoln in person.
I fear it will not get to him until action is had.
I am very sorry to trouble him, but my friends demand it
of me. I told them that you would put it in his hands
Your obedient servant,
BLOOMINGTON, ILL., April 4, 1865.*
COL. WARD H. LAMON :
DEAR HILL, ... I am going with Governor Oglesby
to visit the armies of Grant and Sherman, and shall call on
you in passing.
* Only ten days before the Assassination.
We have glorious news, and am feeling happy over it.
I hope the President will keep out of danger; the chivalry
are a greater set of scoundrels than he thinks them to be.
Mr. Lincoln's personal safety is of such vast importance
to the country at this time, that his friends feel more or less
solicitous when they read of his "going to the front." But
he has made a glorious trip this time.
W. H. HANNA.
January 31, 1874.
REV. HENRY WARD BEECHER:
MY DEAR SIR, My attention has been directed to a
" Review of the Life of Lincoln " which appeared in the
" Christian Union." This paper was by many attributed to
your pen ; it certainly must have received your editorial
I do not conceal the fact that some of its criticisms
touched me sharply ; but I determined, after no little delib-
eration, that it was better to submit in silence to whatever
might be said or written of that biography. It happens,
however, that certain lectures delivered by Mr. Herndon of
Illinois have renewed the discussion of Mr. Lincoln's un-
belief, and incident to that discussion some of the bitterest
enemies of my own have taken occasion to renew their
assaults upon me for what my honest duty as a biographer
made it necessary for me to record in regard to so important
an element in Mr. Lincoln's character.
Many of these self-appointed critics I know, and have
long known. Their motives need no interpretation. Their
hostility to me is very great, but it fails to equal the
treachery with which they betrayed Mr. Lincoln while liv-
ing, or the hypocrisy with which they chant his eulogies
Their malignment of the lamented President during the
most anxious and trying period of his administration was
so outrageous and vindictive that if Booth had wrapped his
bullet in a shred of their correspondence he might have
lodged a vindication of his crime in the brain of his victim.
But these men could have no connection with this letter
were it not that in this assault upon my character they have
claimed the authority of the " Union " to sustain one of their
unjust charges. I trust you will pardon the earnestness
with which I protest against your conclusions as to myself,
both because of their intrinsic injustice, and the sanction
they have since given to the expression of others who can
know nothing of the dignity and impartiality which belongs
to honest criticism.
When the life of Lincoln was written it was my honest
purpose to give to the world a candid, truthful statement of
all facts and incidents of his life of which I was possessed,
or could, by diligent investigation, procure, so as to give a
true history of that wonderful man. I was well aware from
the first that by pursuing such a course I would give offence
to some ; for who that ever had courage enough to write or
utter great truths, since the commencement of the Christian
era to the present time, has not been held up to public scorn
and derision for his independence ? Knowing this and yet
believing that I knew Mr. Lincoln as well, and knew as
much about him as any man living, I undertook to furnish
biography, facts, truth, history not eulogy believing
then, as I believe now, that the whole truth might be told of
him and yet he would appear a purer, better, and greater
man than there is left living. But he was human, composed
of flesh and blood, and to him, as to others, belonged ami-
able weaknesses and some of the small sins incident to men.
He was not perfect as a man, yet with all his humanity he
was better than any other man I ever knew or expect to
know. He was not a Christian in the orthodox sense of the
term, yet he was as conscientiously religious as any man. I
think I am justified in saying that had Mr. Lincoln been
called upon to indicate in what manner the biography of
him should be written, he would have preferred that no inci-
dent or event of his life should be omitted; that every
incident and event of his history and every characteristic of
his nature should be presented with photographic accuracy.
He would have been content that the veil of obscurity should
be withdrawn from his early life. All that was rude in it
could detract nothing from the career which he afterwards
so wonderfully accomplished. The higher elements of his
character, as they were developed and wrought their effect,
could have lost nothing in the world's judgment by a con-
trast, however strong, with the weaker and cruder elements
of his nature. His life was a type of the society in which
he lived, and with the progress and development of that
society, advanced and expanded with a civilization which
changed the unpeopled West to a land of churches and cities,
wealth and civilization.
In your comment upon that part of the biography which
treats of Mr. Lincoln's religion you say : "A certain doubt
is cast upon his argument by the heartlessness of it. We
cannot avoid an impression that an anti-Christian animus
inspires him." And you further say, "He does not know
what Lincoln was, nor what religion is." That I did not
know what Mr. Lincoln was, I must take leave to contradict
with some emphasis; that I do not know what religion is, in
the presence of so many illustrious failures to comprehend
its true character, I may be permitted to doubt. Speaking
of Mr. Lincoln in reference to this feature of his character,
I express the decided opinion that he was an eminently
moral man. Regarding him as a moral man, with my views
upon the relations existing between the two characteristics,
I have no difficulty in believing him a religious man ! Yet
he was not a Christian. He possessed, it is true, a system
of faith and worship, but it was one which Orthodox Christi-
anity stigmatizes as a false religion.
It surely cannot be a difficult matter to determine whether
a man who lived so recently and so famously was a Christian
or not. If he was a Christian he must have been sincere,
for sincerity is one of the first of Christian virtues, and if
sincere he must have availed himself of the promises of our
Lord by a public profession of His faith, baptism in His name
and membership of His church. Did Mr. Lincoln do this?
No one pretends that he did, and those who maintain that
he was nevertheless a Christian must hold that he may
follow Jesus and yet deny Him ; that he may be ashamed to
own his Redeemer and yet claim His intercession; that he
may serve Him acceptably, forsaking nothing, acknowledging
nothing, repenting nothing.
When it is established by the testimony of the Christian
Ministry that sinners may enter Heaven by a broad back gate
like this, few will think it worth while to continue in the
straight and narrow path prescribed by the Word of God.
They who would canonize Mr. Lincoln as a saint should
pause and reflect a brief moment upon the incalculable
injury they do the cause which most of them profess to love.
It would certainly have been pleasant to me to have closed
without touching upon his religious opinions ; but such an
omission would have violated the fundamental principle
upon which every line of the book is traced. Had it been
possible to have truthfully asserted that he was a member of
the Church of Christ or that he believed in the teachings of
the New Testament, the facts would have been proclaimed
with a glow of earnest and unfeigned satisfaction.
In conclusion I may say that my friendship for Mr. Lin-
coln was of no recent hot-house growth. Unlike that of
many who have made me the subject of hostile criticism, it
antedates the beginning of his presidential term and the dawn
of his political triumphs. I had the good fortune to be in
intimate association with his private life when it was humble
and obscure, and I was near him too in the darkest hour of
his executive responsibility, until, indeed, the first rays of
God-given peace broke upon the land. I can say, with truth
that none can assail, that I retained his confidence unshaken
as he retained my affections unbroken until his life was
offered up as a crowning sacrifice to domestic discord at the
very threshold of his and the nation's triumph. Is it, there-
fore, likely that words of mine, written or spoken, should do
purposed injustice to his memory? With the most profound
respect, I am
Very truly your obedient servant,
WARD H. LAMON.